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Brussels – After the controversial EU asylum reform was finally decided in May, the EU Commission has now presented a plan for implementation.

“Not all member states have the same starting position. Some, for example, already have experience with advanced control procedures at the borders,” said the Vice President of the EU Commission, Margaritis Schinas, on Wednesday in Brussels. “But everyone will have to adjust to the new requirements, the new deadlines, and the protective provisions of the law.” This will be a Herculean task.

The Commission’s plan comprises ten key components, which, according to the Brussels authority, are dependent on each other and must be implemented in parallel. One of these components is a large IT system called Eurodac, in which the data of people seeking asylum will be stored and processed. The goal is to help countries determine responsibilities and better monitor movements when refugees move from one EU state to another.

In addition, a return coordinator is to play a decisive role in return procedures to ensure that the procedures are efficient and fair.

Stricter rules and solidarity mechanism

The EU asylum reform came into force on Monday. EU states now have until June 11, 2026, to implement it. However, states must create their plans for national implementation by December 12, 2024.

The EU’s asylum reform particularly initiates a significantly tougher approach to people from countries considered relatively safe. A third country can only be classified as safe if a strict list of criteria is met. For instance, the life and freedom of the applicant must be guaranteed. 

Controversy over the distribution of asylum seekers

The distribution of asylum seekers within the EU is also being newly regulated with a “solidarity mechanism.” This is mainly intended to relieve southern European countries where many refugees arrive. If countries do not want to take in refugees, they must provide support in other ways, such as through monetary payments.

It is questionable whether all countries will play along in the end: there have already been initial voices from Poland and Hungary wanting to evade this mechanism.

“The time of disagreements is over”

“There was a time of disagreements. That was the time when we were negotiating,” warned Schinas. “That time is now over. We are now in a different constellation. This is the moment of implementation.” (June 12)