EU pushes back plans to overhaul asylum system
BRUSSELS - The European Union said Tuesday it had pushed back plans to overhaul the bloc's asylum system until next month after it has sealed a crucial migration crisis deal with Turkey.
Brussels had been set on Wednesday to unveil proposals to change the so-called Dublin regulations, which state that migrants must seek asylum in the EU member state in which they first arrive.
European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said commissioners would discuss the new asylum rules on Wednesday but would "then set out a strategic vision of possible reform options on April 6."
European leaders had urged the Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation EU, to delay the announcement until after a summit Thursday and Friday at which they hope to reach an agreement with Turkey, European diplomats said.
The Turkish deal would involve the EU sending back to Turkey all migrants who arrive on the Greek islands, then resettling one Syrian migrant from camps in Turkey for every one Syrian that Ankara takes back on Turkish soil.
The Dublin rules have come under fire from Greece and Italy, the main landing points for the wave of 1.2 million people who sought asylum in the bloc last year in the biggest crisis of its kind since World War II.
But many countries are against any change, as the current system means they can send migrants back to the country of first entry if they were registered there on their arrival in the EU.
Reports had suggested that the Commission would propose several options ranging from a quota system to sharing out refugees around the bloc, to a more modest emergency clause to ease the burden in times of crisis.