Negotiators in Brussels have rejected a British request for a new migration pact that would enable the UK government to return asylum seekers to other European countries.
When the Brexit transition ends, on 31 December, Britain will lost the right to transfer refugees and migrants to the EU country in which they arrived – the so-called Dublin regulation, which has been at the heart of Europe’s asylum system.
The Home Office has complained that the EU system is “rigid, inflexible and abused by migrants and activist lawyers” – yet is still seeking to replicate it when Britain cuts ties with Brussels.
But, according to the Guardian, member states have ruled out the proposal, as talks on a post-Brexit trade deal continue amid spiralling tensions between the UK and France following the death of a Sudanese teenager attempting to cross the Channel this week.
‘Not good enough’
The UK’s plan would allow the country to return “all third-country nationals and stateless persons” who cross its borders without the right paperwork to the EU country they had travelled through to reach Britain.
Britain would also have a reciprocal obligation to take in undocumented migrants arriving in, for example, France via the UK. However southern Europe has nearly ten times more refugees and migrants arriving by sea, leading Brussels to label the plan “very unbalanced” and “not good enough”.
One diplomat told the Guardian: “The assessment is that this is very much picking and choosing aspects of the current EU system.”
Another EU official added: “The proposal, from the EU perspective, isn’t very operational and doesn’t bring a lot of added value.”
Very few applications
More than 4,100 people have crossed the Channel in small boats this year, compared with 39,283 who crossed the Mediterranean to Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.
The UK returns very few asylum seekers to other EU countries – transferring just 209 people under the Dublin law in 2018, and accepting 1,215 migrants from the rest of Europe.
By comparison, Germany registered 142,450 applications for asylum in 2019 – and France received 119,915.