Cabinet greenlights EU Migration and Asylum Pact opt-in approval process

02 Apr 2024

On 27 March 2024, the Minister for Justice obtained cabinet approval to seek the necessary approvals from the Houses of the Oireachtas to opt in to measures in the EU Migration and Asylum Pact (‘the Pact’). The Pact  is a set of regulations and policies designed to ‘manage and normalise migration’ for the long term, providing certainty, clarity and decent conditions for people arriving in the EU’.

It covers five key regulations:

  • Screening Regulation: creating uniform rules concerning the identification of non-EU nationals upon their arrival, thus increasing security within the Schengen area.
  • Eurodac Regulation: developing a common database gathering more accurate and complete data to detect unauthorised movements.
  • Asylum Procedures Regulation: making asylum, return and border procedures quicker and more effective.
  • Asylum Migration Management Regulation: establishing a new solidarity mechanism amongst Member States to balance the current system where a few countries are responsible for the vast majority of asylum applications, and clear rules on responsibility for asylum applications.
  • Crisis and Force majeure Regulation: ensuring that the EU is prepared in the future to face situations of crisis, including instrumentalisation of migrants.

Opting in to the Pact will require the full repeal of the International Protection Act 2015. Key aspects of the Pact relating to asylum procedures and management include the following:

  • Mandatory accelerated procedures for certain categories of applicants such as those coming from countries with a recognition rate of 20% or less or those who present themselves without documentation, with false documentation and those who have crossed the border illegally.
  • Legally binding timeframes for making decisions on international protection applications and appeals.
  • A border procedure with introduces mandatory procedures for certain categories of applicants. Those who are processed under the border procedure will not be authorised to enter Ireland and will be accommodated at designated locations. Their applications, appeals and removal decisions must be processed within three months. Unaccompanied minors and people who have special reception or procedural needs may be exempted from this, with some exceptions. Safeguards will also be required for families with minors.
  • An inadmissibility procedure, such as for people who have already been granted asylum elsewhere. While Ireland already operates such a regulation, the new regulation requires decisions to be made within two months in such cases.
  • Expansion of the categories of migrants who will be fingerprinted and checked against the Eurodac database.
  • Increased efficiency in processing applications via a regulation which introduces a six-month deadline for processing applicants via the standard (‘Ordinary’) procedure.

The Pact also provides for a common framework for asylum and migration management, including a governance structure where Member States must have national strategies implementing the Pact. It introduces a mandatory but flexible solidarity mechanism which gives Member States options relating to their contribution, which can take the form of  financial contributions, relocations of asylum seekers from countries facing particular pressures, and alternative solidarity measures (such as deployment of personnel or measures focusing on capacity building).

Ireland doesn’t participate in the adoption of certain EU measures unless it notifies its intention to do so. For more information see our EMN resource on Ireland’s current participation in EU migration and asylum legislation, including Irish transposing legislation.

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