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What is in the new European Union deal on migration?

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

European leaders have been arguing for three years over how to handle the polarizing issue of migration. Now the EU has reached an agreement that, according to negotiators, distributes the impact of migration more evenly across the continent. The deal, which has yet to be ratified, responds in part to growing anti-immigration sentiment across the Atlantic. Joining us to discuss what's in the deal is Camille Le Coz, associate director of the Migration Policy Institute. She joins us from Paris. So, Camille, what exactly did EU leaders agree on?

CAMILLE LE COZ: Yeah, this - yesterday was really a historic moment because as you've mentioned, this has been in the making for three years. It's been discussed - you know, all of this reform has been discussed - it's been over seven years. And migration has been this - really, this flashpoint for political tension. It's been an existential issue for the EU project and there's so many division. And so finally, European Union member state, the parliament, came to an agreement, trying to strike this balance between solidarity and responsibility.

MARTÍNEZ: And what exactly did they agree on? What did they actually say, OK, we can work with this?

LE COZ: Yeah. The agreement is really trying to, you know, on the one hand, show countries on the front line that the other member states are - you know, will show solidarity. And that's going to, you know, be manifested by what's called relocation. You know, that member state is taking responsibility for asylum seekers that have arrived at one of the frontline countries or provide financial contribution, operational support, but also that there is a sense that this frontline set-up, these procedures, this screening process, which is a sort of vetting for newcomer to split this group between, you know, the one who will be channeled through a fast-track procedure and the one who would go through a more regular one. And the idea with this fast-track procedure is that the one who, you know, aren't likely to get some status will be, you know, will be put more quickly in a return procedure toward their country of origin.

MARTÍNEZ: And were the - the things you just mentioned - were those the biggest points of disagreement over the years?

LE COZ: Absolutely. This has been, you know, the tension between different member states and especially this idea of relocation. You know, you know, splitting people between different member states has been really a source of contention, of dispute. But now, looking forward, I think we're going to see how much they still really actually carry because translating such a complex legal framework what has been adopted yesterday where hundreds and hundreds of pages and translating it into practice is going to require a lot of capacity, a lot of funding, and really monitoring to ensure that all member states are contributing and are, you know, playing the game.

MARTÍNEZ: You know, Camille, much like here in the United States, there is a growing right-wing faction that wants to restrict migration to Europe. How much sway did they have over the EU's plan?

LE COZ: They have increasingly more influence. There are European elections next year. And what we're seeing also is that some European capital are increasingly, you know, putting pressure on countries of origin, of country of transit, of migrants to stop migrants. And we've seen it just earlier this month with Prime Minister Meloni, you know, came up with that deal to work with Albania, with this idea that from now on, some asylum seeker could be disembark in Albania instead of coming to Italy. For now, this deal has been put on hold by the Albanian Constitutional Court. But we're seeing how some countries are increasingly trying to externalize asylum, to send asylum-seeker to third country, and to question some of the - you know, some of the key principles on which the European Union asylum system function.

MARTÍNEZ: Camille Le Coz is associate director of the Migration Policy Institute in Europe. She joined us from Paris. So, Camille, thank you.

LE COZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.