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25 June, 2024
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EU's passage of migration pact shrouded in controversy

Tension, protests, and high stakes. Inside the historic vote that could shape Europe's future


A "Historic" moment for Europe, as the Migration and Asylum Pact was approved by the plenary session of the European Parliament a few hours ago.

The vote was close, with Members of the European Parliament expressing concerns that some of the legislation would not be passed, leading to a potential "domino effect." Some even admitted to voting with a "heavy heart," recognizing that another opportunity for a comprehensive solution to migration issues within the EU may not present itself soon.

At one point, the plenary session was interrupted by protests from activists in the parliament gallery, shouting "This pact kills, do not vote," while earlier, a nearly three-hour debate unfolded, preceding the vote.

The discussion among MEPs featured the presence of the architects of the Pact, Vice-President of the Commission Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner Ylva Johansson. Both emphasized the necessity of approving the Pact, with Schinas cautioning that "rejecting the package is rejecting the Europe of solutions" and expressing honor at being "present" throughout the historic process from the outset. Johansson likened the vote to a football match, urging MEPs that "you can't stay in the locker room. It's up to us to score for Europe."

"This pact kills, do not vote"

On the other hand, the majority of rapporteurs (from the European People's Party, Socialists and Democrats, and Renew Europe) acknowledged the criticism leveled by MEPs, particularly from the Left and Greens, regarding the text of the Pact. However, they underscored that another opportunity for a comprehensive approach to migration issues may not arise soon, considering the eight years of continuous negotiations and ad hoc solutions implemented during crises. With concerns about further strengthening of the far-right in the upcoming European elections, many emphasized the necessity of approving the Pact, as it provides a European-wide solution for the first time and builds trust among member states and between the EU and its citizens.

Referring to the crises and the disproportionate "burden" borne by reception countries in recent years such as Greece, Italy, and Spain, MEPs from the three largest political groups mentioned the "solidarity mechanism" incorporated for the first time, as well as ensuring European law and the rights of asylum seekers through a common European asylum procedure, as well as effective control of common European borders.

The reform was first presented by the Commission in September 2020 and went through various phases until the Parliament and the Council reached an agreement in principle last December.

Cyprus  |  Europe  |  migration

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