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BRUSSELS: The EU on Wednesday agreed to an overhaul of its asylum system that includes more border detention centres and speedier deportations, prompting migrant charities to slam the changes as “dangerous”.

But EU governments, officials and MEPs hailed the preliminary accord on the bloc’s new pact on asylum and migration as “historic”, saying it updated procedures to handle growing irregular arrivals while maintaining respect of human rights.

The legislative reform, reached after lengthy negotiations between EU member countries and bloc lawmakers, has yet to be formally adopted by the European Council and European Parliament.

That is expected to be done before June 2024, when EU elections will decide the next parliament. Nationalist, anti-immigrant parties are forecast to win more seats in the parliament, reflecting a harder stance among EU voters struggling with a high cost of living.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the “historic” agreement on “a fair and pragmatic approach to managing migration”.

Many EU countries, including France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands also hailed the accord.

Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Piantedosi, called the agreed reform a “great success”, saying frontline countries like his own “no longer feel alone”.

But Hungary — which objects to having to take in irregular migrants or pay countries that do — rejected the deal in the “strongest possible terms,” its foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said.

The EU reform includes faster vetting of irregular arrivals, creating border detention centres, accelerated deportation for rejected asylum applicants and a solidarity mechanism to take pressure off southern countries experiencing big inflows.

The overhaul, based on a commission proposal put forward three years ago, keeps the existing principle under which the first EU country an asylum-seeker enters is responsible for their case. But to help countries experiencing a high number of arrivals — as is the case with Mediterranean countries Italy, Greece and Malta — a compulsory solidarity mechanism would be set up.

That would mean a certain number of migrant relocations to other EU countries, or countries that refuse to take in migrants would provide a financial or material contribution to those that do — something Budapest is fiercely against.

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