E.U. strikes major migration deal, signaling Europe’s rightward shift

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By Usa Express Daily

BRUSSELS — The European Union struck a landmark deal Wednesday to overhaul migration policy, a political agreement that signals a broader, rightward shift across Europe.

Full details of the deal, reached after years of debate and days of marathon talks, have not yet been released, and the plan must still be formally ratified. But it is expected to change many aspects of how the E.U. handles migration, from border surveillance to how long people can be detained.

“Migration is a common European challenge — today’s decision will allow us to manage it together,” tweeted Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.

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The 27-member union has long struggled to find common ground on the issue. After the pandemic years when migration fell off political agendas — especially amid travel bans and closed borders — the issue roared back to campaign stages and elections, adding momentum to E.U. efforts.

Though the E.U. moved swiftly to welcome million of mostly white, Christian refugees from Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion, it still seems focused on keeping those arriving from elsewhere out. Over the past year, an uptick in arrivals has fed the politicization of asylum and refugee policy, elevating the issue in many capitals.

Anti-migrant voter sentiment propelled the far right to fresh victories in bastions of social liberalism like the Netherlands, while dominating the political debate in France, Germany, Italy, Britain and beyond.

During the first 11 months of 2023, the continent saw a 17 percent jump in irregular arrivals compared with the same period a year earlier. The more than 355,000 arrivals amounted to the highest numbers since 2016, when the region saw a historic influx led by refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war.

In remarks Wednesday, top European officials touted the agreement as a win for Europe and those trying desperately — and often dangerously — to reach its shores.

“It means that Europeans will decide who comes to the E.U. and who can stay, not the smugglers. It means protecting those in need,” von der Leyen said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the agreement “historic” and said it would allow Europe to “gain more control over migration, for example through better, faster asylum procedures at the E.U.’s external borders.”

But human rights groups condemned the new measures, saying they undermine protections for asylum seekers and refugees and will put newcomers at even greater risk. They are particularly concerned about plans to more rapidly assess asylum claims at the border.

“This agreement will set back European asylum law for decades to come,” said Amnesty International in a statement. “Its likely outcome is a surge in suffering on every step of a person’s journey to seek asylum in the E.U.”

Beatriz Rios in Granada, Spain, contributed to this report.

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