Misinterpretations of the EU Pact on Migration Spread on Facebook

Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

Original article (in Croatian) was published on 7/6/2024; Author: Anja Vladisavljević

The EU Pact on Migration does not stipulate that member states must accept 30,000 migrants, nor does it require a payment of 20,000 euros for each migrant rejected.

After the European Council adopted a series of legislative acts aimed at reforming the management of migration and asylum last month, incorrect interpretations of this began to spread on social networks, with the aim to scare the public with the arrival and reception of a larger number of migrants.

“While we deal with the sick, the ‘wrinkled skin of a woman who has given birth’ 🙈, that’s the artistic name of that 29-year-old ‘boy’, the document of the European Commission on the plan with illegal migrants has arrived. And our rulers have agreed that Croatia will be one of the five countries in Europe that will receive 30,000 illegal migrants that others will not, that others will reject. What scum, traitors. They agreed to a contract that for every immigrant we reject, we pay 20,000 euros (per person) into the common treasury of the EU.

Did we give consent for this?

Well, people, just shut up and admire the Satanists. Farewell to the mind!”, these are posts of several Facebook users (archived here, here and here).

As we wrote earlier, incorrect interpretations of such laws, that is, the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, were spread on social networks by the Member of Parliament for Most, Marin Miletic. In his TikTok video, he claimed that “the government has agreed to be one of the five countries in Europe that will receive 30,000 illegal migrants that others will not”. He also said that “we will receive” 30 thousand migrants “in a camp somewhere in Banovina”. Miletic made these claims on May 15, 2024, and the very next day, in a very similar form, they were shared by the Facebook users cited above.

Quota of 30,000 Mentioned for Entire EU in Two Instances

The need to reform the European Union’s rules on migration and asylum emerged in 2015 as a response to more intense arrivals of asylum seekers from third countries affected by war and conflict (primarily Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and Eritrea). Countries on the external borders of the bloc (for example Greece, Italy or Spain) demanded a fairer distribution of responsibilities for arriving asylum seekers, so negotiations were held for years to make it easier for them. On the other hand, countries such as Poland and Hungary, whose governments refuse any variant of accepting migrants and refugees, were also vocal.

With the new Pact, the EU tried to reconcile all parties and devise a model according to which responsibilities in receiving asylum seekers and processing their requests will be distributed. There are two provisions of the Pact in which a quota of 30,000 is mentioned in the context of the acceptance of migrants and refugees. These are different situations, but in none of them do the 30,000 migrants refer to a single member state, that is, Croatia.

One concerns mandatory border procedures that would be carried out at the external borders of the EU. This procedure is applied to special categories of applicants (for example persons who pose a security risk or persons coming from countries with a low asylum recognition rate) in order to quickly assess whether the person can enter the asylum procedure at all or will be immediately deported. For this procedure, the EU foresees special reception facilities (camps) where the arrived persons will stay while the two-month check lasts. These facilities should be on the border or next to it, and potential asylum seekers will not be allowed to enter the state territory.

The European Commission will determine the capacity of each member state and the maximum annual number of requests that it should consider within the framework of the border procedure. At the EU level, this corresponding capacity is 30,000. In April, Jutarnji list “unofficially found out” that Croatia would be allocated a quota of 1,500 migrants (1, 2).

The respective capacity of each member state will be determined based on a formula that takes into account “the number of illegal border crossings, arrivals after search and rescue operations, entry bans over a three-year period”. The new EU Regulation on establishing a common procedure for international protection in the Union states that “when determining the scope of the member state’s obligation to establish adequate capacities, the concerns of the member states regarding national security and public order should be appropriately taken into account”.

When the accommodation capacity of the reception facilities of an individual member state is determined, the maximum possible annual number of checks that the member state should perform in the border procedure will be determined, “which would be four times greater than the corresponding capacity of that member state”. If Croatia had an allocated capacity of 1,500, as stated by Jutarnji list, then it would process (and not receive) 6,000 migrants annually.

In the documents reviewed by Faktograf, it is not explicitly stated which countries will implement mandatory border procedures, while some media mention six of them: Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain, Cyprus and Croatia. The statements about 30,000 migrants in the post above, as well as claims made by Miletic, were incorrectly interpreted and used as such to create the impression that Croatia will “receive” that number of people.

30 Thousand Relocations Per Year Across the Entire EU

The second situation concerns asylum seekers, i.e. migrants and refugees who have been approved to initiate an asylum request. This is where the mechanism of binding solidarity is applied. This mechanism will be established “in order to achieve balance in the current system, in which a few member states are responsible for the vast majority of asylum applications”.

According to it, the “relieved” member states will help the members who are more exposed to migratory pressure by relocating asylum seekers to their national territory, making a financial contribution to a common fund (“solidarity reserve”) or providing operational and technical support. A combination of the above-mentioned measures is also possible.

How many asylum seekers a country will need to receive annually will be determined based on the population and GDP of the member state. At the moment, it is not known how much quota will be allocated to Croatia, because it will be two years before the Pact is implemented. Once in place, quota decisions will be made on an annual basis.

So far, it is known that the minimum relocation at the level of the entire EU will amount to 30 thousand and that at least 600 million euros will have to be collected in the annual reserve.

The amount of 20,000 euros that the member state will use to compensate for the non-acceptance of each migrant is not specified in any EU document. It was cited mainly by the media. As explained by Demagog, a Polish fact-checking web portal, this figure was created by dividing 600 million (the annual reserve of the entire Union for solidarity) by 30 thousand (the annual number of relocations). However, these numbers are not final.

The Commission can establish higher numerical values ​​(in exceptional cases even less) for relocations and financial contributions, as well as other forms of solidarity, “depending on the need for such measures resulting from specific challenges in the field of migration in the respective Member State”.

Therefore, it refers to 30 thousand people (unless the Commission determines otherwise) that should be “distributed” annually over a territory of 4 million square kilometres and a community of states that has over 448 million inhabitants. It should be emphasized that it will mainly deal with the processing of asylum seekers’ requests, and not definitive “acceptance”, which leaves the possibility that the number of finally “accepted” migrants and refugees will be much smaller (once the requests are finally processed).

We can therefore conclude that social network users focused on a few numerical data that they took out of context. Not a single document of the EU Pact states that an individual member (or a specific group of several members) will have to receive 30,000 migrants. Also, nowhere is it stated that exactly 20,000 euros will have to be paid for each rejected migrant. These amounts will be known only when the Pact enters into force, and they can change every year.

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