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Profs. Braum and Gerkrath organise conference on EU Migration Policy

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Published on Monday, 05 October 2020

On 30 September 2020, University of Luxembourg Law Professors Stefan Braum and Jörg Gerkrath organised a videoconference in the wake of the destruction of the Moria migrant camp on the subject of EU Migration policy and the Rule of Law. The conference was co-organised with the Commission Consultative des Droits de l’Homme du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg and the Europa-Union Luxemburg.

Luxembourg Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, gave a keynote speech to the webinar attendees. Minister Asselborn highlighted the responsibility of European institutions such as the European Commission and the European Court of Justice to address the disparity between European member states in terms of their willingness to deal with the migrant crisis. By refusing to accept migrants into their countries for relocation, the governments of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are effectively in violation of EU Law and should be sanctioned. Hungary and Poland are also under additional scrutiny as regards their application of Rule of Law principals. Minister Asselborn concluded that the delicate situation will not be resolved quickly or easily, but he is willing to continue with talks at the level of the commission.

Following the Minister’s address, roundtable panelists Tilly Metz (Member of the European Parliament), Isabel Wiseler-Lima (Member of the European Parliament), Gilbert Pregno, (President, Commission consultative des Droits de l'Homme du Grand Duché de Luxembourg), Jörg Gerkrath (Professor, University of Luxembourg) and Stefan Braum (Professor, University of Luxembourg) examined the state of European Migration Law and the problems of a restrictive and punitive refugee policy as well as the shortcomings of the European legal framework (Dublin Regulation). Against the background of human rights, the panelists also discussed the inexcusable social situation of the migrants. 

Panelists had varying levels of confidence regarding the Commission’s proposal, the so-called New Pact on Migration and Asylum, and the sustainability of the proposed legal framework. While Ms. Wiseler-Lima expressed optimism in the plan, Ms. Metz shared doubts, especially concerning the humanitarian aspects of pact. Criticism of the Pact also came from Prof. Gerkrath who argued that one aspect of the proposal, the return of refugees to third countries, represents a legal inconsistency. For returns to occur, bilateral agreements must be made with each third country. However, the geopolitical framework which would allow for this has not yet been put into place. Another point, raised by moderator Ines Kurschat of d'Letzebuerger Land, involved the legitimacy of developing a mechanism to collect and process migrant’s personal and biometric data, with a view towards sharing data between governments and supranational organisations such as Interpol.

However, all panelists agreed that the pact was not sufficiently focused on ensuring basic fundamental rights for migrants who arrive in the EU. The main idea, argued Prof. Braum, is more about regulating and managing the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe and not about protecting those who do make it over the border. This lack of solidarity will need to be addressed in future commission debates.