According to European Commission chairwoman Ursula von der Leyen, the leaders of the European Union have agreed to stricter regulations that would make it simpler to expulse asylum seekers whose petitions for refugee status are rejected.
The actions are a response to growing concern in Europe about increased irregular immigration, which has become a contentious issue in a number of member nations.
At the conclusion of a 16-hour conference discussing this issue and others, EU leaders stated in a final text that it is “a European challenge that deserves a European solution.”
The European Union’s main concern is the small number of unsuccessful asylum seekers who are sent back to their home nations.
The bloc is already hosting millions of refugees from conflicts in Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan, while facing asylum claims from citizens of safer countries such as Bangladesh, Turkey and Tunisia, many of whom end up being deemed economic migrants ineligible for asylum.
Von der Leyen said “pilot projects” relying on the EU’s border patrol, asylum and police cooperation agencies would look to instill “fast and fair asylum procedures” at the bloc’s external borders.
The EU leaders called on the commission “to immediately mobilise substantial EU funds” to reinforce that external border with “protection capabilities and infrastructure, means of surveillance, including aerial surveillance, and equipment,” according to the summit document.
After several EU members, most notably Austria, pressured the commission to foot the bill for strengthened walls meant to deter irregular migrants from passing through from neighboring non-EU countries like Turkey, that decision was made. Von von Leyen has frequently said that barriers cannot be financed by EU funding.
However, EU officials and diplomats argued that if Brussels paid for the infrastructure, such as cameras, watchtowers, and other elements along the external border, it would free up member states to use their own resources to fund barriers.
The summit also agreed on a “principle” that allows one EU country to utilize a court ruling in another EU member state to send an undocumented immigrant back to their place of origin.
That would try to prevent “asylum shopping” whereby migrants go to a different country to apply to stay after being turned down in an initial one.
The EU leaders also agreed “to increase the use of the safe-country concepts” that will open the way to the bloc formulating a common list, von der Leyen said.