France to push for sweeping reform of EU asylum system

·2-min read

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said this week that France would support the reform of the EU's divisive asylum system when it takes over the rotating presidency in January, notably on the issue of harmonising asylum applications.

Speaking on Wednesday, Darmanin sais that asylum applications would be at the heart of the "new Pact on Migration and Asylum", which was tabled by the European Commission in September 2020.

"It's a European issue," Darmanin told RMC/BFMTV, saying a single asylum application for all of Europe would top the agenda when France presides over the EU in from January.

Asked whether France would try to get this measure passed through the EU Parliament, the Interior Minister replied: "We are working on it, we will see what the new German government thinks". A German coalition will be formed in the coming weeks following elections on Sunday.

"This has to be the goal we all have to achieve and everybody's energy should be turned towards this. When you arrive in Europe, when you apply in Italy or Spain or Malta or France, this is for everybody. And we share information," Darmanin said.

European solidarity

In its vast reform of the European asylum system, the European Commission wants to put an end to the so-called "Dublin regulation", which entrusts, among other things, the responsibility for processing an asylum seeker's file to the first country of entry into the EU.

However for some years, France has been facing "secondary movements", as the government refers to it. They are people who have already applied for asylum in a first European country, but whose applications have been rejected for the most part, then come to France to try their luck.

It is these movements that have contributed to putting France neck and neck with Germany in terms of the number of asylum seekers since 2019.

France's position on the new pact under discussion is unchanged: in September 2020 – the day Brussels presented its draft reform – Darmanin called for greater "European solidarity" on the processing of asylum applications and on deportations.

This week, he also pleaded for the European visa policy to be "as unified as possible".

"Otherwise, [would-be immigrants] will play on our differences. We must respond absolutely to Europe when others want to respond to nationalism," he added.

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