The COVID-19 pandemic is slowing down the progress in talks over the new migration and asylum pact due to the lack of physical meetings and negotiations, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said on Monday.
While the approach of the European Union (EU) member states discussing the asylum issues is much more constructive than in 2015 and 2016, it is difficult to make major achievements during COVID-19 without physical meetings, Johansson noted.
"I am still optimistic on this, but we also have to be realistic," she told a press conference following a virtual meeting of EU interior ministers.
Refusing to give a timeline on the pact's implementation, Johansson said it depends on political will and the pandemic situation, adding that results could hopefully be achieved during the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2021.
The European Commission proposed a new pact on migration and asylum in September, trying to deal with the complicated matter, which it said has "many facets", by modernizing exterior border management, improving fairness in responsibilities sharing and strengthening partnerships with the countries of origin.
At Monday's press conference, Johansson said the commission is using "all tools available" to achieve greater cooperation with partner countries.
Johansson mentioned her trips to African countries including Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania along with EU ministers. She warned against any approach that threatens partners, but commended working with them to find good agreement that is mutually beneficial. Enditem