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European Parliament Approves Amendments to Migration Laws | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Migrants carry their belongings as they walk towards the Austrian border in Nickelsdorf from Hegyeshalom, Hungary September 25, 2015. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Brussels – Civil Liberties Committee of European Parliament approved amendments to migration laws and reception conditions for asylum-seekers. It announced that asylum seekers should be able to work in countries of the European Union (EU) no later than two months after applying for asylum, instead of the current nine months.

Members of European Parliament (MEPs) said that due to labor market policies and especially youth unemployment levels, member states may verify whether a vacancy could be filled through preferential access by their nationals, other EU citizens or by third-country nationals lawfully residing in the country.

Applicants for international protection should also get access to language courses from the moment their application is filed, added MEPs, in order to improve their integration prospects and self-sufficiency.

The parliament’s resolution stated that it aims to ensure equal and high reception standards in all member states, which should contribute to a more dignified treatment and fairer distribution of applicants across the Union.

The MEPs stressed that detention of asylum-seekers should be a measure of last resort and should always be based on a decision by a judicial authority. Detention or any confinement of children, whether unaccompanied or within families, should be prohibited, they added.

Member states must ensure that every unaccompanied minor gets a guardian from the moment of their arrival in the EU, as well as immediate access to health care and education under the same conditions as national minors, concluded the MEPs.

Dutch MEP Sophia in ‘t Veld said that the European Parliament managed to achieve an agreement on sustainable and progressive solutions.

She added that all MEPs agreed immediately that children should not be detained on any condition.

“I am pleased that this Parliament is willing to stand up for better protection of child asylum seekers. Detention is never in the best interests of a child,” she stated.

The MEP reiterated that newcomers in Europe need support to be able to learn the language immediately so they can start to integrate right away, adding that it is in everyone’s interest that they participate as soon as possible in the host society – and language is the starting point.

The committee approved its changes to the draft legislation by 42 votes to 9, with 3 abstentions, during the session held in Brussels. The committee also called for the opening of inter-institutional negotiations and the formation of the negotiating team. The decision needs to be endorsed by Parliament as a whole during a general session before beginning talks with other institutions like the European Council and the European Commission which represent all members and with the presence of the periodic presidency of the union which is changed every six months.

MEPs are currently working on changes to the Procedures and Qualification rules for international protection as part of a broader system for a unified asylum system all over EU. In addition to the cornerstone Dublin Regulation which determines the member state responsible of processing each asylum application.