The European Union Commission has introduced new measures aimed at helping Latvia, Lithuania and Poland deal with the influx of migrants facing these territories.
These new measures will take effect after they are approved by the council, and will be in effect for six months, TheSchengen.com reports.
The new measures include allowing the three countries to extend the registration period for asylum applications by four weeks instead of the current three to ten days.
“Member states may also implement asylum procedures at the border to process all asylum applications, including appeals, within a maximum of 16 weeks – except where it is not possible to provide adequate support to applicants with certain health problems. In doing so, they must be given Priority is given to well-founded allegations and those of families and children.”
In addition, the proposal also includes the conditions for receiving materials. EU member states should focus on reception conditions, covering basic needs, including temporary shelter, water, food, clothing and medical care as well as assistance to people at risk.
Besides, UNHCR urged member states to cooperate with UNHCR and other partner organizations to help people in case of emergency.
“The concerned member states will be able to implement simplified and faster national procedures, including the return of people whose applications for international protection have been rejected in this context,” the statement said.
The Commission stressed that EU agencies are ready to assist member states in such a request. According to the UNHCR, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) can help register and process applications, among other things, while the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Fontex, can support countries to better protect their borders.
The proposal, which follows Article 78(3) of the European Union Action Treaty, stressed that after consultation with the European Parliament, the Council might apply such temporary measures which would bring facilities to Member States. However, such a proposal can only be implemented by a majority vote.
In this regard, the Vice President for the Promotion of Our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, stressed that the proposal would help Latvia, Lithuania and Poland deal with the current crisis.
The recent increase in the number of immigrants trying to enter Latvia, Lithuania and Poland has been seen primarily as a consequence of the Belarusian president, the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, who was previously accused of using immigrants in order to destabilize the bloc.
Earlier, EU foreign ministers announced that they would expand sanctions against Belarus in an attempt to stop the exploitation of human beings by Lukashenko’s regime, in the wake of the crisis its neighboring countries are currently facing.