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17 June, 2024
 
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Cyprus takes a stand for solidarity in EU immigration reform

Landmark agreement promotes fair and balanced asylum policy

Newsroom / CNA

Minister of Interior Konstantinos Ioannou announced on Friday that Cyprus views the establishment of a mandatory solidarity mechanism as a significant development for the country. The statement comes after the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU reached an agreement on the general approach to immigration and asylum policy reform in Luxembourg on Thursday evening.

The compromise, described as a "delicate balance," aims to address concerns from both frontline member states, responsible for processing the majority of asylum applications, and central European member states regarding "secondary movements" of asylum seekers within the EU.

Cyprus emphasizes the importance of the mandatory solidarity mechanism as it ensures the implementation of solidarity measures for Member States facing excessive migratory pressures, which were previously voluntary. The agreement promotes binding provisions for the relocation of third-country nationals to other Member States based on needs determined by the European Commission. Alternatively, financial and logistical support can be provided.

The Council of the EU's general approach adopted in this agreement will serve as the negotiating position for future discussions with the European Parliament. Cyprus voted in favor of the proposal, which was adopted by a qualified majority. Hungary and Poland voted against it, while Czechia, Malta, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Lithuania abstained.

After three years of negotiations, this agreement marks the first step in revising migration policy through the New Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

Minister Ioannou acknowledges the challenges in striking the right balance and expresses Cyprus' willingness to demonstrate flexibility. However, he highlights the significant concessions made and calls for understanding the concerns of frontline member states.

In particular, the Minister requests a review of the proposal that requires ensuring the feasibility of returning individuals who have entered the EU illegally and assessing their ties to the country of return. Ioannou points out that this provision jeopardizes the possibility of implementing a fast-track procedure.

Cyprus aims to swiftly address support requests submitted by Member States facing excessive pressure, including redistributive measures as a practical form of solidarity.

Regarding the procedure for suspending border operations due to increased migratory pressures, Ioannou emphasizes that the notification of such intentions to the European Commission should not involve complicated procedures that impede immediate response capabilities. European partners support this stance.

Minister Ioannou also highlights the challenges Cyprus has faced over the past six years due to the systematic migration influx from Turkey through the Green Line. He emphasizes the need for the completion of the Eastern Mediterranean Action Plan to alleviate the burden on the country's asylum system.

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