EU ministers to meet on contested migration reform

European Union interior ministers are to meet in Brussels on Thursday to try and make progress on a highly contested reform of the bloc’s asylum system.

After fewer arrivals during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of migrants coming to the EU has risen sharply in recent months, exposing unresolved rifts between the bloc’s 27 member states.

Capitals and the European Parliament have been negotiating for years to agree on a sweeping reform of the bloc’s common asylum system.

One part in particular, the so-called crisis regulation in the event of a particularly strong influx of migrants, is currently the subject of intense wrangling.

A July compromise proposal failed to convince hardliners and the more progressive German government for different reasons, leading to a deadlock.

Whether progress can be made on Thursday would also depend on Berlin’s readiness to change its position to overcome the stalemate.

On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for a swift political agreement on the reform.

Another migration issue is a controversial agreement between Brussels and Tunis that partly aims to reduce the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean towards Italy.

Less contentious is the prolongation of an exemption for Ukrainian refugees who are allowed to stay in the EU without applying for asylum.

EU ministers are expected to extend the waiver until March 2025.

The only other topic besides migration on the agenda is the fight against drug trafficking from Latin America to the EU, which would be discussed with representatives from the region. 


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