EU ministers attempt to make progress on contested migration reform


Brussels, Belgium.

European Union (EU) interior ministers are to meet in Brussels on Thursday to try and make progress on a highly contested reform of the bloc’s asylum system.

After fewer arrivals during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the number of migrants coming to the EU has risen sharply in recent months, exposing unresolved rifts between the bloc’s 27 member states.

Capitals and the European Parliament have been negotiating for years to agree on a sweeping reform of the bloc’s common asylum system.

One part in particular, the so-called crisis regulation in the event of a particularly strong influx of migrants, is currently the subject of intense wrangling.

A compromise proposal in July failed to convince both hardliners and the more progressive German government for different reasons, leading to a deadlock.

Whether progress can be made on Thursday would also depend on Berlin’s readiness to change its position for the sake of overcoming the stalemate.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday called for a swift political agreement on the reform.

Another migration issue on the table is a controversial agreement between Brussels and Tunis that partly aims to reduce the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean towards Italy.

Less contentious is the prolongation of an exemption for Ukrainian refugees who are allowed to stay in the EU without having to apply for asylum.

EU ministers are expected to extend the waiver until March 2025.

The only other topic besides migration on the agenda is the fight against drug trafficking from Latin America to the EU, which would be discussed with representatives from the region.  


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