EU members discuss proposals for migration pact

2020-10-09 02:42:26 GMT2020-10-09 10:42:26(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BRUSSELS, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Home affairs ministers of the European Union (EU) member states had on Thursday their first discussion about the recent European Commission proposals for a pact on migration and asylum to address the need for coherence and solidarity on migration policies.

The discussion focused on three key aspects: procedure before entering the EU, preventing abuse of the asylum system and solidarity.

The ministers sought solutions including engaging with the Western Balkans to improve coordination on the migration route and with North African countries to prevent human smuggling. An envisaged European police partnership was also discussed.

"We need a better way to manage migration together in the European Union, and that means that we need a more European migration policy," European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said at a press conference following the video meeting. She called for solidarity and compromises from the member states.

Despite the differences, she said she was optimistic that an agreement could be reached. "The devil is in the details," she said, adding that "also the possibility lies in the details."

German Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer said the aim is to achieve a political agreement by the end of this year, under the Germany presidency of the EU.

Southern European countries like Italy and Greece have been crying for support from the rest of the EU on shouldering the responsibility of receiving migrants.

Also on Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held a videoconference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

A joint statement said they agreed that Europe needs a predictable, fair and resilient migration management system, with the "right balance between responsibility sharing and solidarity." The Greek side stressed the need for the New Pact to adequately address the pressures imposed to front line states.

Recalling the significant joint efforts in the last nine months to alleviate overcrowding and improve the conditions on the islands, they acknowledged that more work is needed.

They committed to support the work of the Task Force created by the commission to put in place a joint pilot to manage migration and asylum processes, including by setting up appropriate new facilities on the overwhelmed island of Lesvos.