On 28 April, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonió Guterres had an exchange of view with MEPs in the European Parliament LIBE Committee. During the meeting, Mr Guterres emphasised the importance of the establishment of a “true European Asylum System.”
Guterres welcomed the Commission proposals to recast existing EU asylum legislation, which he considers a “step forward”. However, he pointed out that Member States cooperation and political willingness is the key element to achieve the CEAS. “There are no national solutions to asylum issues,” he said. “With so many different systems, asylum seekers are moving according to their chances to get international protection, which facilitates the work of the smugglers. It is thus fundamental to achieve a European consensus.”
The main questions raised by MEPs referred to intra-EU solidarity and responsibility sharing; the revision of the Frontex mandate and the Dublin system; the repatriation and removal of asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected and under readmission agreements; and issues related to climate displacement.
According to Mr Guterres, the relocation of refugees in the context of responsibility sharing arrangements would only be possible after a real harmonisation of the Member States’ asylum systems. Besides, he deplored the negative impact that the fight against illegal immigration is having on asylum seekers.
Instead of limiting access to the territory to all irregular migrants, he called for more open borders combined with better-organised policies on the repatriation of irregular migrants and asylum seekers who have received a negative decision on their applications. Regarding the impact of climate change on migration, he recommended the full use of the existing international human rights instruments, considering this issue as a key accelerator of forced displacement.
On 27 April, following a meeting with EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, the High Commissioner also called for a more proactive approach from the EU in the area of resettlement.