A letter to the Home Affairs commissioner sent by the MED5 ministers warns Brussels that front line states won’t sign the new pact on migration and asylum unless their demand for a “balanced” agreement is met.
According to Philenews, a joint letter earlier this week by the interior ministers of Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Italy, and Spain known as the MED5 calls on European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson to take into consideration the group’s positions ahead of a Home Affairs Council on Friday afternoon.
“We are willing to reach a final agreement on the Pact but only if it is balanced, provides added value, and ensures effective management based on shared responsibility and effective solidarity,” it was stated in a copy of a letter published by Philenews.
The MED5 countries went on to say that their “willingness to move forward with the Pact is unquestionable” but also argued that two current proposals -screening regulations and changes to the EU’s fingerprint scheme- would place undue burden on front line member states.
Eurodac, EU-wide system that processes fingerprints of asylum seekers, has been detached in the New Pact proposal, with the European Dactyloscopy being repackaged for wider immigration purposes.
'We are willing to reach a final agreement on the Pact but only if it is balanced, provides added value, and ensures effective management based on shared responsibility and effective solidarity'
The new Screening Regulation also aims to ensure fast identification of correct procedures applied to undocumented persons who enter the EU or request international protection during a border inspection.
Cyprus has been accused of failing to accept asylum requests at ports of entry, including at checkpoints along a UN buffer zone known as the Green Line, separating the recognized Greek Cypriot south from the Turkish Cypriot north.
But Interior Minister Nicos Nouris, who spearheaded the MED5 letter campaign according to local media, insists people arriving at checkpoints or crossing the buffer zone undetected are not asylum seekers but “illegal or economic migrants sent by Turkey.”
“Therefore, at this time, the MED5 countries do not intend to support the de-linking of the current Eurodac and Screening proposals from the Pact,” the letter also said.
Instead, the MED5 are calling for fast implementation of several proposals of their own “to achieve tangible progress” in areas that do not need legislative changes within the EU before Pact discussions are concluded.
“Similarly, the influx of migrants through the Green Line to Cyprus should be treated adequately even though the Green Line does not constitute a border,” the letter said.
The MED5 ministers also call on more funding and more returns based on an “increasing intensity of relations between the EU and the countries of origin… starting with the countries of North Africa.”
Nouris has been harshly criticized over Nicosia’s pushback policies, including a controversial deal with Beirut where refugees on boats are being sent back without being allowed to file an asylum application.
Following a recent visit to the island, Commissioner Johansson said she had “question marks” about the Cyprus-Lebanon agreement, noting EU regulations stipulate people can seek asylum at the bloc’s sea borders.