EU leaders to discuss asylum system reform measures

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani appeals to EU leaders to back plan

President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani appealed to EU leaders to back a package of reforms of the European Asylum system that have become deadlocked over reluctance to share the burden of asylum seekers by some member states.

On Friday morning, EU leaders will discuss a package of seven measures, five of which are agreed, but which includes the controversial Dublin regulation whose reform is demanded by front line states to ease the burden on them. Under the Dublin regulation, the member state responsible for dealing with an asylum application is usually the state through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.

Mr Tajani used his customary address to leaders at the beginning of the EU summit on behalf of MEPs to emphasise the need to pass the whole package, opposing moves to leave aside those parts which have not been agreed. “The seven files stand together,” he said.

On Brexit he reiterated the position of all the institutions that the withdrawal agreement could not be renegotiated but said they should “listen to Mrs May”. In the end, however there “could be no border between the two parts of Ireland. That was not up for negotiation.”

He would not be drawn on whether any extension of the Article 50 negotiations beyond the European elections in May would have an implication for UK participation in those elections. When the UK leaves the EU at the end of March it loses its representation in the parliament – a delay in that departure could mean they retain their rights.

He also asked the leaders to increase their support of the new EU Trust Fund for Africa by €40 billion.

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth is former Europe editor of The Irish Times