Long-delayed action on migration crisis stirs frustration among EU lawmakers

European leaders debated priorities Tuesday with the lawmakers here, and the long-delayed actions on migration crisis has stirred frustration among the European Parliamentary.

"Preventing future crises is just as important as managing the current crisis," European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in an address to the European Parliament, gathered for its plenary session which was in preparation for the European Council summit of June 28-29.

He called for the European Council to take definitive action in reforming the Dublin system, which regulates how migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the European Union are managed.

"The situation in the Mediterranean is a stark reminder that we cannot wish problems away," Timmermans added.

Monika Panayotova, Deputy Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Council, told the European Parliament that "much had been achieved in the past years to strengthen our overall migration policy, with tangible results on the ground".

Assuring MEPs that the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Council had made migration a priority, and that intensive negotiations had led to more concrete solutions for the issue, Panayotova admitted that "Dublin reform remains difficult".

The Bulgarian official was quickly rebuked by President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, who reminded Panayotova that MEPs had already overwhelmingly adopted recommendations for the overhaul of the Dublin Rules.

The European Parliament's text "is both firm and expresses solidarity", Tajani said, adding that it expresses a plea to the Council for them to take on board the serious proposal that garnered a huge majority to reform the Dublin rules and that has not been done up until now.

Tajani was referring to a November 2017 resolution adopted by the European Parliament that set for a series of guidelines for common asylum policy reform within interinstitutional negotiations between the Parliament and the European Council.

Leaders of the political groups also criticized the European Council for not taking decisive action on the migration crisis, ongoing since 2015, the year which saw over a million people arrive on European soil by irregular means.

Addressing the European Council representative on behalf of the Socialists and Democrats, Udo Bullman, lamented the plight of the Aquarius, a migrant ship that was recently accepted by Spain after being refused entry by Italy.

"No, you don't have time to postpone the issue of migration," Bullman hammered at Panayotova, "there is no excuse for not doing anything," he said.

"I have only one question: when, for heart's sake, will the European Council take a decision on this migration issue, and when will you take a responsibility?" asked Guy Verhofstadt on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Verhofstadt, former Prime Minster of Belgium, had strong words for the European Council, promising legal action if the body made up of European heads of state and government could not reach a decision.

"If EU leaders fail to agree to reform our common European migration & asylum system at EUCO, we have to bring the Council to Court under art.265 of the Treaty for 'failure to act'," he tweeted on Tuesday.

"We all know that the Dublin Rules don't work; we've been saying that for years here in the Parliament, we've been having proposals for how to fix it for years, and it doesn't get any better," added Ska Keller on behalf of the European Greens.

The June 28-29 Summit will be the last of the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Council before it is succeeded by Austria. In addition to migration, other major topics including Brexit, security and defense cooperation, the EU's long-term budget, and Eurozone reform will be on the summit agenda.






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