Sacrificing Norms in the Name of Efficiency: European Pact on Migration and Asylum

On 23rd September 2020, the European Commission proposed a new Pact on Migration and Asylum. Although it was proposed as a new pact, it was an improved and strengthened set of rules based on the proposals of 2016 and 2018. Unlike the proposals of 2016, with the new Pact the Commission aims to have more effective, strict policies regarding the management of migration and asylum while at the same time strengthening the relations between EU members. However, as they work on managing migration and asylum more effectively, they ignore crucial issues regarding the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers, how to protect them and facilitate their admission to the country of immigration.


In the second clause of  Article 2 of the Pact, the Commission focuses on two key terms: solidarity and responsibility-sharing. In terms of solidarity mechanisms, member countries would primarily concentrate on relocation or return sponsorship. This shows that they want to reduce the number of migrants, with the help of retaining potential refugees or immigrants in their home country, or if they escape, sending them to their country of origin. For the Commission, if people do not cross their country’s borders, this also reduces the responsibility-sharing. Regarding that, the Commission only clarifies how responsibilities shift when refugees escape to another country. It does not mention the burden on countries which host many immigrants. Besides, the Commission sees these countries as a step that restricts the flood of refugees to Europe.

Migrant Smuggling

In Article 5, this new Pact handles the reinforcing of the fight against migrant smuggling. This EU Action Plan aims to prevent human trafficking and migrant smuggling by developing law enforcement. It was determined by the EU Action Plan that migrant smuggling should be handled, and a tighter legal framework is required for irregular transit and entry. People who enter the country to find a job and remain without legal status are models of smuggling for the EU. With this, the Commission will increase the operability of the Employers Sanctions Directive. In this way, irregular employment and migration are tried to be minimized.

Unfortunately, refugees who cannot obtain legal status will continue to remain illegal. Instead of solving this problem, the EU tightened it up and abandoned its refugee responsibility. What they did is try to protect their borders and ignore the refugees’ status.


Sharing Responsibility

Article 6 mostly focuses on the EU’s need for increasing cooperation with its neighbours and partner states in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The Pact suggests that the EU should help those countries be more capable of dealing with irregular migration, border control, migrant smuggling, and providing help to those in need. However, is this any different from the burden-shifting approach of the EU, especially since the 2011 Syrian refugee crisis? While countries like Turkey or Jordan host the refugees, the EU takes the role of directing those countries and giving financial support. The EU should start to take responsibility in dealing with those problems and engage actively in hosting the refugees, helping them resettle and integrate into society.

The Schengen Area and Ineffectiveness of IT Systems

Article 4: the Schengen area system is an essential element of the EU’s policies. The EU’s migration solution will be developing IT (Information Technologies) systems such as EURODAC, which is used for related irregular immigrants in the EU borders and is compatible with  Schengen countries’ databases for selecting people. However, it is not a proper solution for hundreds of people who live in bad conditions at the borders. Moreover, immigrants who do not have a passport or identity card will be stuck in challenging situations because their status is not determined by the New Pact of the EU. In addition, the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism is an integral part of the EU. Coastal countries are affected from migration by people’s disembarkation, which is altering relations between Central Europeans. As a result, there are some bargains that trigger a continuing adversity process.

Integration of Migrants

According to Article 8, promoting social inclusion is only possible with the integration of migrants and their families into society. Because this integration is under the responsibility of the member states, they have been trying to boost cooperation to make it happen by the European Integration Network since the 2016 Action Plan, and they want to extend cooperation between 2021 and 2024. No matter how successful the integration is, there will always be unemployment, lack of education or training, and little social interaction between the immigrants and citizens. They will not be able to provide these facilities, such as schools or job opportunities for all migrants; therefore, unless the EU focuses its attention on those issues, complete integration is difficult to achieve.

Overall, while the new Pact claims to be promoting solidarity, responsibility-sharing, and improving the situation of migrants and asylum seekers, what it does is to put all the responsibility on non-members of the EU, like Turkey, to restrict the entry of migrants and asylum seekers by strengthening the border management. Even if the EU allows them to enter, it does not provide enough facilities to help their integration.

Author(s): Esra Çalışkan, Ceren Çıkı, Begüm Çoban, Ceren Deniz, Leyla Doğan



EUR-Lex, ‘‘COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION  on New Pact on Migration and Asylum’’,  September 23, 2020,

European Commission, ‘‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’’,

Kirişçi,Erdoğan Eminoğlu,The EU’s “New Pact on Migration and Asylum’’Is A Missing True Foundation, Brookings, November 6, 2020,