Themed data sheets

Title

CPMR Migration Task Force

Description

The meeting started with an exchange of views on the new Migration and Asylum Pact presented by the European Commission in September 2020, starting from the common realisation that the EU can be destabilised very easily by this issue and that the new funding scheme incorporates very positive elements for regional and local authorities, which can make use of different funds such as AMIF, ESF+ or ERDF

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General information

The meeting started with an exchange of views on the new Migration and Asylum Pact presented by the European Commission in September 2020, starting from the common realisation that the EU can be destabilised very easily by this issue and that the new funding scheme incorporates very positive elements for regional and local authorities, which can make use of different funds such as AMIF, ESF+ or ERDF. Similarly, there is a consensus that legal migration is an important source of benefits for societies, so the establishment of legal and safe channels is essential in order to fight against the exploitation of migrants.

Firstly, the position of the Committee of the Regions was presented, which considers that regions are not considered in the Pact at the same level as the Member States and that it is not clear that the proposed solidarity system would work as it is designed, and that there is a need to find a criterion to share the burden or excessive pressure on some regions (e.g. family reunification). Moreover, in their view, the principle of the responsibility of the first Member State should no longer apply, but applications should be handled where they are registered. Other demands include the acceleration of deadlines or the scrupulous respect of data protection rules in the work of Eurodac, with the taking of biometric data from children under 12 years of age being excluded. They also provide for particularly vulnerable groups (minors, women, people with disabilities, LGBT people, etc.) who need special treatment and should be subject to immediate protection in case of emergency, with decisions being taken on an individual, i.e. case-by-case basis.

For its part, the Commission underlined the difficulties it is encountering in reaching an agreement between the different Member States, although it considers that its proposal provides the right tools to meet the current and unexpected challenges. He also mentioned the progress made on specific issues such as the Blue Card or the European Asylum Agency into which the current European Asylum Support Office (EASO) will be transformed. In his view, the key issue will be to find a balance between the internal and external dimensions: in the first case, integration and inclusion policies are crucial, requiring efforts on both sides (both willingness on the part of the migrant and a welcoming spirit in communities are needed, with the Member States being encouraged to adopt National Plans for the integration of third-country migrants which are monitored by the Commission in order to collect data on their effectiveness, never to point the finger at any partner); in the second, given that the Commission has no legislative powers, the focus will be on other types of activities, mainly relations with third countries, designing pilot projects to be implemented and then replicated in other areas.

The second part of the meeting was devoted to reflecting on the link between migratory movements and climate change. Indeed, although this link is very difficult to prove and there is no internationally recognised definition of a 'climate refugee', so there is a legal vacuum in the protection of climate refugees, studies indicate that if no action is taken in this area, there will be more than 143 million climate-induced internally displaced persons in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America (i.e. the poorest regions) by 2050.

Within the EU, we can speak of 3 main positions on this issue: on the one hand, the Commission focuses on the external dimension, prioritising cooperation and humanitarian aid; secondly, the Parliament has adopted a proactive approach, calling for the effective protection of people displaced due to climate change; finally, in the Council, there has been no real political movement on the issue.

Regardless of the possible solutions that can be discussed (granting humanitarian visas, pushing for formal recognition of 'climate refugee' status, etc.), the contribution of regional authorities to climate resilience and preparedness through their international partnerships and the development of common approaches with neighbouring regions (for example, within the CPMR itself, the Regions Act! initiative and the Geographical Commissions stand out), while taking into account the possibility of internal displacement within Europe.

Ultimately, the EU needs a holistic, sustainable, effective and humane response to the challenges of migration and asylum management, based on the principles of solidarity and shared responsibility. As the effects of national and EU policies are felt primarily at the regional and local level, where the reality of migration flows is addressed and pragmatic responses to needs on the ground are provided, sub-state authorities must be considered within the Migration and Asylum Pact as important stakeholders, requiring a better understanding of their role and competences in both the internal and external dimensions of migration policies, as well as a strengthened governance structure, programmes and funding opportunities within a long-term vision to address structural needs.

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