The New Pact on Migration and Asylum, for and by the European Union: a perspective on the possible impact of its application on the migratory realities of Melilla
External border management and a misleading concept of solidarity
In its proposal for a new pact, the European Commission places great emphasis on the
importance of the external dimension of migration policies. This is perceived by Member
States as a major point of common interest, with the Commission anticipating that putting
the focus on cooperation with third countries to control migration will attract greater
support for the pact. The other side of the coin of this common ground is obviously the
restriction of arrivals and the increase of pushbacks at the EU external borders, to the detriment of the development of safe migration pathways, the development goals and the prioritization of resettlements between Member States.
The design of fast-track international protection procedures includes the screening and
triage of the people arriving in Europe, illusorily prior to entry. According to the
Commission, this previous screening would be carried out through fast-track border
procedures, based on a common EU list of safe third countries (we presume this includes
Turkey and Morocco) and the immediate exclusion of applicants from countries with low
recognition rates for international protection, such as Tunisia or Algeria.
This would be accompanied, of course, by return agreements with the countries of origin of
the people who do not pass this prior filter, masked as supposed cooperation agreements
aimed at outsourcing migration management, rather than at achieving the development of
partner countries. Likewise, this new system comes with an increased number of tools to
carry out returns and rejections at the border (including the reinforcement of FRONTEX),
clearly disregarding guarantees and respect for human rights.
On the other hand, the concept of solidarity used by the European Commission gives up any logic of humanity and adopts a notion of inter-state solidarity that results in asymmetrical responsibilities in which Member States have sufficient flexibility to shirk their participation in the relocation quotas of asylum seekers. In compensation, states that do not participate in such relocation can contribute through "return sponsorship"; or operational support, i.e. paying for or assisting in the repatriation operations of migrant people. This system is clearly doomed to fail, since it is not difficult to imagine that most countries of second and third arrival will avoid accepting their quotas if they can replace it with other types of much less costly options which, on the other hand, do not guarantee the effective management of migratory flows in the receiving countries either.
Melilla can be a paradigmatic scenario of the consequences of these logics. On the one
hand, the external border management envisaged by the New Pact would emphasize the
existing dynamics between Spain and Morocco in terms of border returns, coastal control
and cooperation between authorities to curb the arrival of migrants at the Spanish border.
Increased power, both political and economic, of a transit country such as Morocco, derived from the border externalization agreements could easily lead to worse living conditions for people on the move, as well as to an even greater decline in the guarantees of respect for Human Rights in Morocco, whose actions would likely be backed by the complicit silence of its European neighbours.
On the other hand, the new system of “mandatory flexible solidarity” would place Spain,
along with other countries such as Italy and Greece, in a very vulnerable position compared to other European states, thus generating a greater sense of vulnerability in the face of
migratory movements. This would foreseeably accentuate the xenophobia and anti-immigration discourse that is already very present in Melilla’s society, with an impact on the
criminalization and stigmatization of migrant people. Furthermore, it would reinforce the
open-air prison that Melilla is for many people on the move - a place of endless waiting and
uncertainty -, since the refusal to accept the relocation quotas could go together with a
prolonged stay of these people in places like the CETI (immigrants temporary stay centres),
not to mention the already existing lack of relocation agreements for minors under
guardianship, not only between Member States but also between Autonomous
Final considerations regarding migrant minors and conclusion
Although Member States could still change their position regarding the New Pact, it seems
that for the moment consensus has only been found around dynamics of control and very
diluted forms of solidarity. In the context that concerns Solidary Wheels as an organization
that works with migrant children in Melilla, we are particularly concerned about the increased lack of protection for unaccompanied children who are under guardianship in the
Autonomous City. The European Commission suggestion to shield from refoulement only those children under the age of twelve - contrary to all national legislation that establishes the age of minority, for all purposes, at eighteen years old - is particularly intimidating.
Furthermore, we are concerned that increased migratory control both within and outside
European borders will lead to reduced guarantees in processes concerning minors, such as age assessment procedures or the processing of residence authorizations for minors under guardianship - who are already subject to a repatriation which rarely takes place.
In conclusion, in the face of the discourse that cries out for national security and against the
supposed invasion that threatens us, it is worth remembering that hatred begets hatred,
and violence begets violence. The breeding ground that is being created combined with a
short-term vision of migration management leads us to think about issues that we have
been discussing in recent months on our social networks, such as mental health, the
possibilities of inclusion and the feeling of belonging to our society of people who, from the
very first moment, are made very clear that they are not welcome. We urgently need to
adopt an enhanced perspective on migration and take responsibility on the basis of a true
solidarity between people, abandoning the logics of national security and externalization of
From our experience and, above all, from the experiences we have shared with the
hundreds of people stranded in the grey zones of these borders, success is quite relative.
We speak of grey zones to refer to places where, from one side or the other of the territorial
delimitations, human rights are vilified and ignored as if it were not our responsibility what
happens to the people who do not have a Schengen passport. The speeches that champion our common space and the freedom of movement between member countries for
European citizens are mostly empty words if we forget all those "others" who should really be part of a much more inclusive, respectful and rights-based "we".