A new deal on how to manage migration in the European Union was agreed on Wednesday morning by EU lawmakers and governments. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which will come into force next year, aims to balance the burden and benefits of hosting migrants among EU countries and to reduce the influx of people.
The pact includes new rules on screening migrants at the EU borders, processing asylum claims, deciding which EU country is in charge of each claim and dealing with emergencies.
The number of migrants arriving in the EU has dropped significantly since 2015, when over 1 million people came, but has risen slightly from a low point in 2020 to 255,000 in the first 11 months of 2023. Most of them crossed the sea from Africa to Italy.
The Italian Interior Minister, Matteo Piantedosi, praised the pact as a big win for Europe and Italy and said it would end the isolation of EU countries on the frontlines of migration.
The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, also welcomed the pact and said it would ease the pressure on affected states, including Germany.
Previous attempts to distribute the responsibility of hosting migrants among EU countries failed because some eastern members refused to take in people who had arrived in Greece, Italy and other places.
Under the new system, countries that are not on the border will have to either take in their share of 30,000 asylum seekers or pay at least 20,000 euros ($21,870) for each person to an EU fund.
The screening system will try to separate those who need international protection from those who do not.
People who have a low chance of getting asylum, such as those from India, Tunisia or Turkey, or who pose a security risk, can be stopped from entering the EU and held at the border.
The processing of applications will also be faster.
Amnesty International criticised the pact and said it would worsen the situation of people seeking asylum and make it harder for them to reach safety.
The human rights group said the pact would likely lead to more people being detained at the EU borders, including children, families and vulnerable people.