European Union (EU) Ministers held a meeting to discuss the new migration pact for the first time since it was announced in late September.
Amid tension between member states regarding the proposal, the meeting took place via video conference. This was carried in a leading European TV media.
A major point of disagreement is the idea of mandatory relocation of asylum seekers arriving in Europe’s coastal states. Poland, Hungary and Austria have opposed this.
But the new plan sidesteps it by allowing other countries to share the burden through logistical support or organising the return of unsuccessful asylum applicants.
However, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, told media that the new pact strikes the right balance.
“We have a very strong humanitarian angle in this proposal. We are standing up to defend the right to apply for asylum.
“We are doing new legislation to avoid push-backs at borders, we are taking the real step to do search and rescue so that those people can be disembarked on European soil with strong European solidarity,” Johansson said.
But some refugee organisations have argued that the new pact’s focus was wrong.
“It’s quite clear first of all that the pact aims to rebuild mutual trust between Member States and not prioritise refugee and migrant rights,” Sara Presitani from Euromed Rights mentioned to media.