Successful examples of complementary pathways have already been implemented across Europe, increasing the numbers permitted to enter the EU. Rich experience regarding the development of such pathways is accruing, as is analysis of data collated about each scheme. However, such pathways have tended to develop at a national level, and that organic development means that schemes have typically worked independently from each other. Ongoing fragmentation serves neither EU policy nor those it is intended to benefit.

COMET will test out a supra-national platform which draws together a network of new and existing national schemes, thereby maximising opportunities for beneficiaries and hosts in terms of matching, reception and integration. Targeting those along the Central Mediterranean Route, the Action will create additional places for people who should not be viewed solely through the lens of their need for international protection.

Project partners include organisations already managing diverse pathways in different countries (Italy, France, Germany), as well as bodies intending to implement in others (Spain and the Netherlands) during the project. As such, COMET will provide a basis for in-depth exchange and a firm foundation for advocacy with an impact beyond the project’s lifetime.

Political context and challenges

Each (potential) host country has its own legal and political context with associated challenges. Solidarity and responsibility-sharing depend on political goodwill at a national level but there are diverse approaches to and varying degrees of support for reception across Europe.

In Germany, for example, closer co-operation between government and civil society on humanitarian admission would be needed in order to create additional places. In Spain, in contrast, the Parliament of Catalonia has approved a resolution to ensure access to free movement and asylum to forcibly displaced persons, the adoption of a welcome programme for UNAMs and the creation of a humanitarian corridor. Aware of the delicate advocacy work to be done, informal overtures have already been made by partner organisations to federal or national government in the countries where expansion or development of a pathway is envisaged. The number of admission places associated with each pathway and country is differentiated to reflect the reality and nuance of different contexts, and to furnish the best prospect for pilot pathways to proceed.

In the Recommendation on Legal Pathways, the Commission urges close cooperation by member states with civil society to expand community sponsorship, involving sponsors from identification to integration, and recommending standards such as non-discriminatory selection criteria and clearly-defined responsibilities for different actors.

COMET fosters such co-operation, together with the development of common standards, tools and procedures to strengthen sponsorship models. The strong focus on developing a methodology which considers every stage of the pathway process in detail will address these central clarifications demanded by the European Commission.