The Ministers of Internal Affairs and Migration of the five EU Mediterranean countries met in Athens for the first MED 5 Conference.

Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Malta agreed to common positions and proposals regarding the European Migration and Asylum Pact, currently under negotiation.

They all agreed that the proposed legal arrangements do not ensure “a fair balance of responsibility and solidarity” among member states.

“Our main concerns remain” reads the common MED 5 statement. “We continue to see significant imbalances in the proposed legislation, which are far from being governed by the ‘principle of solidarity and fair burden-sharing’, as set out in Article 80 of the EU Operational Convention”.

The main points the 5 countries insist on are the following:

  • Increased cooperation with countries of origin and transit
  • Decisive and effective control of the EU ‘s external borders, with the support of FRONTEX when needed
  • The need to establish an automatic and mandatory relocation mechanism
  • Αn overall simplified process of the “fostered returns” tool (i.e. a country taking over responsibility for returning individuals) to improve the effectiveness of this tool

The interior ministers of the five Mediterranean countries on the front line of mass migration to Europe

“The frontline Member States cannot be expected to bear the brunt of the migration pressure on their own” concludes the common statement.

EU’s admission of failure

Having accepted that the 2013 Dublin III Regulation puts a “disproportionate responsibility on a minority of member states, in particular when high numbers of arrivals occur”, the European Commission presented its proposals for a new Pact on Migration and Asylum, in September 2020.

The new Pact will try to introduce more efficient and faster procedures. The Commission proposes an integrated border procedure, which for the first time includes a pre-entry screening covering identification of all people crossing the EU’s external borders without permission or having been disembarked after a search and rescue operation.

This will also entail a health and a security check, fingerprinting and registration in the Eurodac database.

After the screening, individuals can be channeled to the right procedure, be it at the border for certain categories of applicants or in a normal asylum procedure.