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Ohisalo to discuss migration and asylum reform with EU ministers

The Commission is pushing with these proposals for more and faster deportations of asylum seekers, as well as a significant step up in cooperation between EU countries.
Minister-of-the-Interior-Maria-Ohisalo-by-Laura-Kotila-Vnk
Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo. Photo: Laura Kotila/Vnk.

Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo will attend an informal meeting of the EU home affairs ministers via video conference on Thursday 8 October. The main theme of the meeting will be the reform of the EU migration and asylum policy.

The European Commission issued on 23 September a comprehensive communication on the reform of migration and asylum policy, which sets the direction for the current legislative term. The communication was accompanied by legislative proposals.

With these proposals, the Commission is pushing for more and faster deportations of asylum seekers, as well as a significant step up in cooperation between EU countries. To achieve a higher rate of returns, the EU executive proposed faster asylum-processing procedures at the border. One of the key suggestions is that all asylum-seeking arrivals would be subject to a mandatory pre-entry screening process, including a health and security check.

Common solutions on asylum

The EU migration system has come under increasing pressure in recent years, with bottlenecks forming at external borders. Most acknowledge the system must change, but the 27 states are deeply divided on how to proceed. The reform seeks solutions to those problems of the common asylum system on which the states’ opinions are divided.

"The most difficult questions at EU level relate to the sharing of responsibility and solidarity between the Member States. From Finland's point of view, responsibility-sharing must be fair and sustainable so that all Member States are able to meet their legal obligations in normal conditions. We must also create effective mechanisms for migratory pressures and different types of emergencies," Minister Ohisalo says.

In addition to the reform of the asylum system and return policy, the Commission communication covers cooperation with non-EU countries and the development of legal migration pathways. The communication also deals with reinforcing border management and combating migrant smuggling.

Finland's position to be discussed

The Finnish Government adopted in June general guidelines on its position to the reform of the asylum system. In order to formulate Finland's more detailed positions, the Government will discuss the proposals and submit communications on the proposals to Parliament in the coming weeks.

"Finland is committed to common European solutions for the development of migration and asylum policy, and is ready for open and flexible discussions seeking compromises on the basis of the Commission proposals. Of course, both national and EU action must respect the obligations of international law and fundamental and human rights," Ohisalo said.

 The ministers EU will have on Thursday their first discussion about the reform and the way forward. No decisions will be made at the informal meeting.

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