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'We've listened, acted and delivered' - EU passes Migration Pact

Trent Murray in Brussels


European Union lawmakers have approved a major overhaul for how the 27 country bloc manages migration, with EU Parliament approving a new 'Migration and Asylum Pact.'

The new measures aim to make faster determinations for who can claim asylum, and speed up the deportation process for those who are deemed ineligible. The pact also seeks to make countries share responsibility for handling claims better, to alleviate pressure on external border countries like Italy, Greece and Malta.

Proponents of the measures celebrated the successful parliamentary vote, heralding it as an important step to address what has long been one of Europe's most divisive issues.

"This is a historic day for Europe," said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola. "We have listened, we have acted and we have delivered on one of the main concerns of people across Europe. I want to thank members of the European Parliament who have spent years working on this," she added.

European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, John Thys / AFP
European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, John Thys / AFP

European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, John Thys / AFP

Faster deportations

Supporters of the law say the changes aim to cut the times for security and asylum procedures at external EU borders, and increase returns to reduce unwanted immigration from the Middle East and Africa, a high priority on the bloc's agenda.

But a plan to use detention centers to house those being returned to their country of origin has been criticized as inhumane by charities and NGOs, with activists disrupting the vote in Parliament with chants of "This pact kills. Vote no!"

"Status quo" not working

On the other hand, several EU leaders echoed support for the passing of the laws.

"The status quo means that certain countries have difficulties in managing the migration flows," said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. "We see that people are being subject to criminal activities, to human smugglers. No one could agree with the status quo I hope, and this is a compromise." 

However, plans to resettle refugees across the bloc have been met with opposition by some EU member states. Poland said after the vote that it would not accept an EU immigrant relocation scheme.

After the Parliament vote, the measures need to be signed off at a special European Council meeting, expected on April 29. However, qualified majority voting rules mean the laws are highly likely to pass, even if some countries oppose them.

Once approved, the pact is expected to come into force in 2026.

'We've listened, acted and delivered' - EU passes Migration Pact

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