Christian group lambasts new EU migration regulation, laments doubling down on broken system

By Chris Eyte |
Migrants in Italy
CATANIA, ITALY - APRIL 12: Some Red Cross members await, on the dock in Catania harbor, the disembarkation of the 600 migrants rescued in recent days 100 miles off the coast of Sicily on April 12, 2023 in Catania, Italy. The Italian Coast Guard escorted a fishing trawler with around 700 migrants and refugees who were rescued some 100 miles off the coast of Sicily. | Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images

The controversial approval of new EU migrant laws by the European Parliament has been slammed by the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME).

MEPs supported the EU Regulation on Asylum and Migration Management with 322 in favor, 266 opposed and 31 abstentions during a parliamentary vote on April 10. 

Supporters of the new regulation say it will allow asylum checks to be carried out more efficiently on the borders of EU member states. It will also improve ID checks for arrivals and give member states choices in taking on responsibilities for asylum seekers, ranging from financial help, to resettlement schemes, to responding during crises. 

The vote came after eight years of debate in the parliament about the best methods to deal with growing numbers of migrants in the 27 countries that form the EU. 

“History made. We have delivered a robust legislative framework on how to deal with migration and asylum in the EU,” wrote Roberta Metsola, the European parliament president, X (Twitter): “It has been more than 10 years in the making. But we kept our word. A balance between solidarity and responsibility. This is the European way.”

However, Dr Torsten Moritz, General Secretary of the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), lamented the resulting “sad end” to the European Parliamentary debate, “which has become more and more toxic in recent years.”

“Today´s European Parliament vote marks, despite some narrow majorities, the sad end to a debate on the EU´s approach to asylum and migration, which has become more and more toxic in recent years,” Torsten said in a statement sent to Christian Daily International.

“This was accompanied by a permanent discourse on migration being a crisis – where seeking for pragmatic solutions would have provided a better, dignified and feasible alternative.

“The result is new legislation which further undermines the dignity and the rights of those arriving in Europe.”

Torsten remains skeptical, saying “there is no reason to believe” that the legislation will solve “any of the challenges associated with migration and refugee protection.” Talks of a migration crisis will thus “continue to be a self-fulfilling prophecy and strengthen extremists´ arguments,” he added.

“CCME and its members will engage in damage control in the next years,” Torsten said. 

“A real solution can however only be based on legislation in which the EU and its members assume responsibility for their fair share in protecting the world's refugees and welcoming migrants.  

“Resources are there, but they need to be redirected: away from dissuading and marginalizing the most vulnerable and towards an EU, which protects people more than borders."

Ryszard Bobrowicz, a researcher with an interest in migration, based at the Faculty of Theology and religious Studies at KU Leuven, called the regulation “the type of compromise that does not really satisfy anyone.”   

“It largely continues the approach that could be summed up as the ‘securitization’ of migration, in which people on the move are not treated humanely, but rather as threats, a type of force majeure that can, and must, be opposed by any means necessary,” Bobrowicz told Christian Daily International. 

“It aims to heal the system that does not work, by, largely, doubling down on it. Not only does this approach fail its own principles, feeding a costly and inefficient system of control and selection that cannot address the major challenges of migration, but, more importantly, it violates the broader humanitarian principles on which the European Union was founded.”

Bobrowicz said the EU parliamentary measures did not satisfy interested parties, whether that be migrants or supporters, European citizens afraid of migration, or “those that play on it.”

“Quite the opposite,” he added, “it will provide even more ground for anti-migrant populism, as the regulation will struggle to achieve its goals.”

Bobrowicz pointed out that the “failed compromise” can be seen in the example of Poland. He said that Donalde Tusk, current Polish Prime Minister and former President of the European Council, remained skeptical about the regulation. Meanwhile the Law and Justice party in opposition, “described it as a danger that could be catastrophic to Poland.”

“The two borders in Poland also exemplify what the problem is and what the alternative could be: the Polish-Belarussian border, with its dire humanitarian situation, exemplifies the failures of the current system, while the Polish-Ukrainian border, with its resounding reception success, shows that we have the capacity to be human,” said Bobrowicz.

The academic pointed out a positive element in the introduction of a new resettlement framework, echoing humanitarian “corridors” set up by NGOs in Europe. 

“Hopefully, the pan-European character of the regulation will make their work easier,” said Bobrowicz, “and bring more attention to the importance of this type of support, although the individual state will continue to be the main decision-makers in the process.”

Meanwhile Emily Shepherd, CEO of Welcome Churches in the U.K., which is outside the EU, welcomed news about the regulation. Migration is a contentious issue in Great Britain. 

“We welcome the move to share more responsibility across countries for people fleeing war and persecution,” Shepherd told Christian Daily International. “We know that caring for, and welcoming, people seeking refuge is close to God's heart.”

Shepherd said that 1400 U.K. churches had joined the Welcome Network, welcoming refugees in British communities. 

“Our churches and communities have been enriched by the people who are arriving and we look forward to meeting many more incredible people seeking refuge in the months and years ahead.”