The S&D Group today condemns the Commission’s proposal to allow the suspension of EU asylum rules at the border with Belarus at the request of Member States.
S&D MEPs believe the emergency measures proposed today, that include the de facto detention of asylum-seekers, are being used as a cover allowing national authorities to spread fear about a migration crisis and drive a domestic political agenda. The S&D Group urges the Commission to ensure all Member States uphold their international obligations to guarantee the right to asylum in the EU and urges the Polish authorities in particular to ensure transparency at the border by allowing journalists access to report.
Before the decision comes into force, the European Parliament will need to give its opinion on the Commission’s proposal, first in the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee and then in plenary.
Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson for justice and home affairs, said:
“Vice-President Margaritis Schinas today said he wants to be unrelenting against Belarus. Yet, the emergency measures proposed by the Commission are in fact unrelenting against vulnerable people in search of protection. The measures also play straight into the hands of the governments that want to use the plight of vulnerable migrants to spread anxiety and fear about a migration crisis at the EU’s borders. We have rightly criticised the Belarusian regime for using vulnerable migrants to create a humanitarian emergency for political gain. Today’s proposals are there to satisfy EU governments, like Poland, seeking to use the same vulnerable people to drive their own anti-migrant agenda. The measures to suspend EU asylum laws are concerning and extreme. For example, holding asylum-seekers for up to 16 weeks will result in the arbitrary detention of people seeking international protection. Seeking asylum is a right, not a crime, and people should never be locked up indiscriminately and for no reason. The Commission’s move today is worrying and risks the EU becoming complicit in dangerous fearmongering.”
Juan Fernando López Aguilar, S&D LIBE Chair, said:
“The European Parliament has to have its say on these measures, which are both excessive and disproportionate, and we will not hold back on our criticism. The decreasing number of people seeking asylum at the EU’s border with Belarus in no way justifies allowing governments to abandon their obligations under international law to give access to asylum. Nor is there any reason to turn a blind eye to the illegal practice of pushbacks. The PiS government in Poland, already under the spotlight for breaching the rule of law in the EU, is one of the main drivers behind the Commission’s proposal. It is very worrying that the Commission is willing to dance to the tune of the PiS government’s demands to suspend the EU’s asylum rules and even more so following yesterday’s vote in the Polish Parliament to ban media and NGO from accessing the border area. The LIBE committee will outline all our concerns and criticisms in our opinion in the coming weeks and we hope the Council take note.”
Note to editors
Under Article 78 (3) of the EU Treaties, the Commission can propose provisional measures in emergency migratory situations at the EU’s external borders. The European Parliament must be consulted before those proposed provisional measures can be adopted by the Council.