Intervjuades av JRS, en katolsk internationell organisation kring det nya asylpaketet för någon vecka sedan och nu är jag med i en lång artikel i deras nyhetsbrev. Så här blev det:
THE CHALLENGES OF ADVOCATING FOR REFUGEE RIGHTS
Cecilia Wikström, an MEP from Sweden, shares her views on the newest addition to EU asylum law
Cecilia Wikström, from the Liberal Party, led the negotiations for the Parliament on the Dublin Regulation. She talks to JRS Europe about how she became one of the regulation’s main driving forces.
Entering into any negotiations on a subject as divisive as asylum will never be easy, but it was even a struggle to bring the Dublin Regulation up for discussion. “It was very difficult when I inherited this dossier. It was in the deep freezer, and nobody wanted to touch it. There had been failure after failure throughout the decade.”
“We have to consider the fact that this [a new Dublin Regulation] is something the EU has promised – the Commission, Parliament and Council – since 1999.”
Ms Wikström worked on the regulation for two and half years with five different EU Council presidencies. “Discussions began with the Belgian presidency, but during the Polish presidency there was really a shift in the paradigm because all of a sudden I realised that we were at the end of the road.”
“Either we consider Dublin to be in the freezer and remain in the freezer forever, or we create a new bend in the road in order to finally enter into negotiations, open the file up and melt it from the freezer.”
Ms Wikström feels that the difficult negotiations have been worth it as it will change the lives of asylum seekers for the better. “What we see in Greece, Italy and many other member states is that people are kept in detention for the sole reason that they are asylum seekers. I have met some who have been detained for years. We are taking away that possibility.”
“Now no Dublin transferees can be kept in detention for more than three months, after that they must be released”.
Ms Wikström acknowledges that the previous Dublin Regulation had many faults and provided very little assistance to asylum seekers. Some of these faults are addressed in the soon-to-be adopted regulation.
“Asylum seekers are entitled to legal assistance free of charge, something that I know NGOs have asked for. It is compulsory for member states to provide free legal assistance on request, which means that actually asylum seekers are no longer alone in a strange country where the language is unknown to them.”
The negotiations have forced Ms Wikström to be very pragmatic. However, overall she remains confident with the result.
“I did what I could and I achieved more than I ever believed. Having said that, if we lived in a world of fantasy, we would not have any Dublin Regulation.”