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Migration and asylum: the new European Union pact by Marco Gerbaudo

The International University College of Turin hosted a talk by Marco Gerbaudo on the New pact on Migration and Asylum published recently by the European Commission. Marco Gerbaudo does research on the legal framework governing legal migration. He worked at the Council of the EU.

Figures and narratives

  • 120,000 irregular arrivals in 2019 vs 2.4 million residence permits issued
  • 700,000 new citizens in the EU vs 1 million citizens emigrated

Two ways to present data

Irregular arrivals to the EU (2008-2021). Source: Council of the EU
Yearly irregular arrivals (2015-2021). Source: Council of the EU

EU policy and reforms

Policy puzzle

  • Legal migration
  • Checks at external border
  • Asylum
  • International cooperation
  • Irregular migration and puzzles
  • Schengen and internal check


  • Quota system – Failed reform
  • Common European Asylum System reform – Failed refurm
  • EU-Turkey statement 2016: funding support related to migration
  • Frontex: strong unfied agency patrolling the border 2016
  • Interoperability between technology systems: EES (everybody crossing the border), ETIAS (reform), reform SIS VIS)
  • COVID-19 pact planned in March 2020 published in September 2020 (linked to the narrative on a fire)

Three floor house “global approach”

1st floor: external dimensions

Relation with third countries, maintly to stop irregular migration

  • Support the economic development of third country -> win/win partnerships
  • Cooperation on return of migrants -> European Common Return System
  • Support third countries on protection
  • Increase migration governance and management
  • Develop new legal pathways -> future reform, EU talent pool, etc (often quoted, limited implementation)
  • Fight trafficking and smuggling

2nd floor: border procedures

Controls, especially for Greece, Spain (fences, camps, etc), Malta (not letting people disembark and forcing other countries to take irregular migrants, etc), Cyprus, etc.

  • Screening for everybody within five days at the border (including for people in EU): identity, security, and newly health – Categories: irregular migrants, migrands rescued, asylum seekers
  • Border procedure: within 12 weeks or return. For the latter: refusal of asylum combined with expulsion order within 24 weeks, one level of appeal. Criteria : thread to security, third country with <20% successful successful asylum claim.

3rd floor: internal rules

Fair sharing of responsibility between members

Three options

  1. Relocation across member countries
  2. Return sponsorship
  3. Other measures (capacity building, funds, etc)

Three situations

  • Permanent solidarity, mandatory but flexible: option 1, 2 or 3
  • Solidarity for search and rescue operations: yearly forecast with voluntary based support, option 1, 2 or 3
  • Immediate solidarity in crisis situation: on request by Commission or member state: option 1 or 2

The garden: unmanaged problems

  • Alternative pathways to legal migration
  • Overcoming the Dublin system (announced but not realized)
  • Schengen Reform
  • Humanitarian migration
  • “Irregular economic migrants” needed to realize common work such as food production

In short

Negative elements

  • Return sponsorship as solidarity: pushing for returns
  • Legal fiction of non-entry in the EU: until we know who you are, you are not in the European Union
  • Unpractical proposals: challenges in applications
  • Iper-categorization of migrants
  • Unrealistic agreements between member states

Positive elements

  • Quicker granding of refugee statuts
  • Nobody can be perspecuted for search and rescue at sea
  • Recommendation on resettlment and alternative pathways
  • Ambitious plans of legal migration
  • Migration preparedness and crisis blueprint instead of IPCR

Today: 10 months after pact implemented

  • Twice more deaths at see in 2021 than in 2020
  • Italy: hotspots such as Lampedusa (not in overcapacity over time) under pressure, inhumane conditions such as Torin – for ex. a migrant died in jail without getting any information about the situation (may become the norm with the new pact), intense cooperation with Libya and Tunisia
  • Spain: Canary Islands as a hotspot where people are kept for years (not transfered to mainland as returns are more difficult), government blackmaild by Morocco to get more funds (no check for a day: 6000 more people)
  • Greece: arrivals dropped since 2020, very tense situation with Turkey
  • Still major disagreements while the Council of the EU was chaired by Germany, then Portugal
  • Legislative files finalized such as VIS and blue card

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To cite: Balli Fabio. Migration and Asylum: New European Union pact by Marco Gerbaudo. Duty of care in Italy-France migration 2021; 6. ISSN to come. https://italyfrance.hypotheses.org/341