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EU decision makers reach political consensus on the Pact: humane implementation of new rules is paramount


Today, EU governments and the European Parliament have come to a consensus on key political aspects of the Migration and Asylum Pact – a significant step towards finalising the most far-reaching reform of the EU’s asylum legislation since 2016. As they work on translating this agreement into the final Pact texts in the coming months, we urge co-legislators to conclude the reform in a spirit of humanity, making sure that migrants have access to protection and dignified reception conditions.

We welcome all the efforts made to ensure that the legislative proposals comply with the rights of people arriving. The agreement aims to address the complexities and key shortcomings of migration governance in Europe. However, it will end up compromising protection standards unless fundamental safeguards in the asylum decision making process are preserved. All asylum seekers must benefit from systematic, individualised and fair examinations of their claims. This will be challenging if the Pact’s implementation follows the border management measures favoured by the political agreement, which rely on mandatory accelerated procedures.

The reforms are largely built on the premise that tightening border procedures will result in reduced numbers of asylum seekers in Europe. However, people will continue to seek safety, livelihoods, or to be reunited with their loved ones. “We fear that the new procedures foreseen at borders will expose people to more risks and leave critical needs unmet”, says Mette Petersen, Director of the Red Cross EU Office. “This is why co-legislators must do all they can to make EU migration rules more sustainable and human centred”.

A Croatian Red Cross volunteer plays with a refugee child while they are waiting permission to disembark train. © Jarkko Mikkonen / Finnish Red Cross 

Beyond the risk of persecution, people may have additional reasons to remain in Europe, including family ties, acute medical conditions, or other vulnerabilities that prevent them from going back home. Hence, it is crucial that alongside the asylum procedure, the possibilities for people to stay are thoroughly evaluated.

People seeking protection should, at the very least, be able to receive free legal assistance, prepare for interviews and appeal negative decisions within reasonable time limits. They should never be returned before a final decision is reached on their case. This is essential to guarantee the rights of all applicants and increase their chances of a fair hearing. It is especially important at borders, where people are less likely to receive international protection status.

To protect asylum safeguards it is also vital to limit the reasons and scope for channelling applicants into accelerated border procedures. Children and people in situations of heightened vulnerability should be granted exemptions to make sure that they can access the specialised treatment and support they need. During periods of increased arrivals, it will be important to resist expanding the use of these types of border procedures. Instead, efforts should focus on ensuring that people are not stranded at borders in overcrowded and inhumane conditions.

Documented practices have shown that people who are subjected to border procedures are frequently deprived of their liberty, with some experiencing conditions resembling detention. This can be particularly harmful for children, whose wellbeing is seriously affected by such confinement. To counter the genuine concern that this evolves into standard practice, it is crucial to invest in suitable reception centers within communities. Based on the Red Cross’ experience, facilitating interactions between newcomers and locals is the only effective way to foster mutual understanding and genuine connections.

Austrian Red Cross volunteers received a group of migrants at Nickelsdorf border crossing from Hungary with hot drinks and food, and provided medical assistance. © RK NOe/ A. Zehetner

Considering the impact of the changes in the Pact on migrants arriving in the EU, it is more important than ever for them to access humanitarian aid and essential support services wherever they are. Before putting the rules into practice, we encourage the European Commission and Member States to foster dialogue with authorities and humanitarian actors to review the humanitarian implications of current EU migration policies and explore humane ways to implement the new rules.

For media inquiries, please contact Eva Oyón on: or +32 2 235 09 22

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