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EU lawmakers pressure member countries to complete migration deal

by editor

BRUSSELS — The European Parliament blocked talks on key files of the EU’s migration pact in order to compel member countries into approving the final part of the package.

The assembly announced on Wednesday the suspension of negotiations on two files that introduce stricter screening of migrants at the EU’s borders.

“The files of the Pact are interlinked and making progress on some proposals rather than others risks leading to a bottleneck in the negotiations,” the European Parliament wrote in a statement on Wednesday, after a meeting between key EU lawmakers working on the migration pact and representatives from the European Council.

Members of the European Parliament hope that this will put pressure on EU countries to break a deadlock over the last plank of the flagship asylum deal — the so-called crisis regulation — at a key summit in Brussels next Thursday.

The strategy is to link the crisis regulation to tougher screening rules — a key priority for member countries across Europe — in order to push national capitals to overcome divisions on the final chapter of the EU’s asylum package.

Before summer, EU ambassadors failed to reach an agreement on the crisis regulation, which details measures to support countries along the EU border which are facing spikes in numbers of asylum-seekers.

Germany and the Netherlands, among other countries, blocked a set of proposals in July that allow front-line EU countries to pause migrant border checks when they are facing “crisis” conditions.

The Parliament is calling on EU countries to approve the crisis regulation next week, as that would unblock inter-institutional negotiations on all pieces of the reform.

This would keep alive the European Commission’s goal to approve the entire asylum package before the European election in June next year.

Yet Parliament’s decision to suspend talks is a symbolic move unlikely to have major consequences for the approval of the asylum package. Technical work on the two files will in fact continue despite the interruption in talks, according to Jorge Buxadé Villalba, an EU lawmaker from Parliament’s home affairs committee.

The assembly had previously indicated it won’t approve other files under negotiation until EU countries reach a deal on the whole package.

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