European Union countries reached an agreement on Thursday on reviewing regulations for a fairer "joint" reception of asylum seekers and migrants, at the end of negotiations described as arduous and arduous.
Sweden, which holds the EU's biannual rotating presidency, announced the deal after a long day of complex discussions between the bloc's interior ministers in Luxembourg.
The negotiations ended with Italy and Greece persuading them to go ahead with the amendment, which provides for solidarity among European countries in receiving migrants and speeding up the processing of asylum claims for a number of migrants at the border.
Thursday's agreement opens the door to negotiations in the European Parliament to adopt reform ahead of European elections in June 2024.
German Interior Minister Nancy Weiser said: "These are not easy decisions for everyone at the table, but they are historic decisions."
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson welcomed the agreement, which she described as a "very important step" to the Asylum and Migration Pact presented by the European Commission in September 2020.
Poland and Hungary voted against the proposals, while Bulgaria, Malta, Lithuania and Slovakia abstained, according to the Swedish rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, tasked with managing the talks.
Rejection and settlement
Ten countries, including Italy and Greece, have expressed opposition or reservations about the proposals on the table.
A new settlement text had to be prepared to appease as many countries as possible, especially those in the Mediterranean basin through which migrants enter the EU.
Italy had been demanding that migrants who had not been granted asylum be allowed to go to "safe" countries through which they could pass, even in the absence of a specific link between the migrant in question and the country; but Germany opposed the idea.
The other text, endorsed by the ministers, obliges member states to implement expedited procedures for reviewing the asylum claims of certain migrants who are not clearly eligible for such protection, because they come from a country considered "safe", and this is intended to facilitate their repatriation.
German Interior Minister Nancy Weiser asked "that families with young children not be subject to the border mechanism."