EU Migration Pact: A house of cards

Published: 18th December 2023

This week, EU negotiators are hammering out the final details of the long-awaited EU migration pact.

Ahead of the trilogues, Stephanie Pope, Oxfam EU migration expert, said:

“The deal is nothing but a house of cards incapable of fixing the EU’s broken asylum system. After years of negotiation, we are left with a pact that ushers in increased detention, more pushbacks, and dubious deals with non-EU countries.

“This missed opportunity allows European countries to flout EU migration rules and pay non-EU countries to do its bidding. Instead, we need the EU to invest in better asylum systems and figure out a way to share the responsibility of welcoming people.”

On responsibility and solidarity (the RAMM file), Pope said:

“The proposal fails to ensure all European countries welcome people equally, not just countries at Europe’s borders, and it allows EU countries to pay their way out of solidarity. This risks incentivising those countries at Europe's borders, like Greece, to build walls instead of bridges, fuelling the ongoing saga of pushbacks and neglecting search and rescue.

On the border procedure (the APR file), Pope said:

“This proposal effectively bars people from applying for asylum, fast-tracks deportation, puts families and children in detention and risks refoulement. It’s a blueprint taken straight from the Greek islands where the EU has funnelled millions of European tax-payers money into prison-like centres surrounded by barbed wire and surveillance technology.” 

On the crisis file (the crisis, force majeure and instrumentalization file), Pope said:

“This offers EU countries a menu of options to simply opt out of EU asylum rules. It curtails the right to asylum, prompts a further breakdown of common migration rules, and does nothing to prevent humanitarian crises like the overcrowded Greek camps.

“The striking up of migration deals with non-EU countries is symptomatic of Europe’s failure to make a better asylum system, and it opens the EU to blackmail through the misuse of migrants and refugees as political pawns.”


Notes to editors

Stephanie Pope, Oxfam EU migration expert, is available for interview and comment. 

Oxfam calls on the EU and European countries to work together to create an asylum system that works. Oxfam wants the EU to: 

  • Make better rules to share the responsibility of people arriving in Europe fairly. The EU must reform Dublin (first country of entry rule) and create a mandatory solidarity mechanism prioritising relocation to ensure there is support in cases of increased arrivals. EU countries should not be allowed to pay to keep people out. 
  • Invest in better asylum systems. This means ensuring that asylum centres are open and in good condition, that there is enough staff, that people can go to doctors, and that children can go to school; secondly, countries need to increase their capacity to process asylum applications through adequate staff and administration.
  • Create safe and regular routes to Europe so that people do not have to risk their lives to seek safety and a proper search and rescue mechanism to stop the deaths at sea.

Contact information

JadeTenwick I Brussels, Belgium| | mobile +32 473 562260| WhatsApp only +32 484 81 22 94    

Julia Manresa | Brussels, Belgium || mobile +32 473 87 44 26| WhatsApp only +32 479 56 18 12  

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