Relocation & Resettlement: Positive trend continues, but more efforts needed
Yesterday, the Commission adopted its latest progress report on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken over the past month.
The positive trend observed in the last report has continued with Member States stepping up their efforts on both relocation and resettlement. Relocation has continued at the increased rate reached in the previous month with an additional 776 persons relocated since 14 June. The total number of relocations from Greece and Italy now stands at 3,056. Further important achievements have also been made as regards resettlement, with 8,268 people resettled so far of the agreed 22,504 under the July 2015 scheme and a total of 802 Syrian refugees resettled from Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement. As arrivals in Greece remain low due to the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and with seasonal arrivals having started in Italy, the Commission now calls on Member States to continue and strengthen their efforts, building on the encouraging results of the last months, as reiterated by the European Council on 28 June.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said yesterday: "I welcome the increased efforts made by Member States over the past months on relocation and resettlement. This is a true expression of European solidarity in action, which comes in addition to the enormous efforts made by Member States to receive and host over 1,2 million asylum seekers in 2015 alone. With tens of thousands of refugees in Greece waiting to be relocated and arrivals remaining at a high level in Italy, this positive trend now needs to be continued and strengthened. The Commission will continue to support Member States by all available means to further accelerate the implementation of the relocation and resettlement schemes. TheEU Resettlement Framework that we are proposing today aims at strengthening our capacity to resettle people in need of international protection by offering a common European approach with a uniform procedure for resettlement across the EU."
During the reporting period from 14 June to 11 July, the number of relocations increased with an additional 776 persons being relocated, maintaining the increased rate seen in the previous reporting period. This brings the total number of persons relocated to 3,056 (2,213 from Greece and 843 from Italy), with Croatia having participated in the scheme for the first time. Although this constitutes positive progress and shows that Member States are stepping up their efforts, it still falls far short of the Commission's proposed target of relocating 6,000 people per month. Member States are not yet meeting the commitments they made under the Council Decisions on relocation.
The pace of relocation transfers from Greece increased during the reporting period, notably due to an increased engagement from several Member States and the heightened capacity of the Greek asylum service to process relocation requests. However, relocation from Italydecreased and remained at a particularly low level compared to the continuously high number of potential applicants for relocation arriving in Italy.
The Commission calls on Member States to increase their efforts, in particular with regards to unaccompanied minors, and to fully comply with their commitments and obligations under the Council Decisions on relocation. It is crucial that all Member States relocate actively and on a regular basis from both Italy and Greece.
Based on the information received from the participating States, 8,268 persons had been resettled by 11 July 2016 under the resettlement scheme of 20 July 2015, mainly from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. They have been received by 20 resettling States (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).
The number of resettlements from Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement continued to increase during the reporting period (14 June to 11 July) as Member States assessed the candidates referred to them by Turkey, via the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Since 4 April 2016, a total of 802 Syrians have been resettled from Turkey to the EU, including 291 since the last report, and the number of Member States actively participating in the scheme has also increased. Since the last progress report, in addition to Finland, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal, resettlements have now also taken place to Latvia and Spain.
The permanent EU Resettlement Framework proposed yesterday will establish a common set of standard procedures for the selection of resettlement candidates and a common protection status for persons resettled to the EU to streamline and better focus European resettlement efforts in the future.
The temporary emergency relocation scheme was established in two Council Decisions in September 2015, in which Member States committed to relocate 160,000 people from Italy and Greece (and if relevant from other Member States) by September 2017.
On 8 June 2015, the Commission adopted a proposal on a European Resettlement Scheme, which was followed by an agreement among the Member States on 20 July 2015 to resettle 22,504 persons in clear need of international protection, in line with the figures put forward by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Following the EU Leaders' Summit with Turkey on 29 November 2015, the EU-Turkey Action Plan was adopted. The voluntary admission scheme proposed by the Commission on 15 December 2015 is a key element of the Plan, aimed at supporting Turkey in managing refugees and offering a safe and legal channel for persons in need of protection.
The European Council on 7 March 2016 called for an acceleration of the implementation of relocation, in order to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Greece. On 28 June 2016, the European Councilreiterated its call for further action to accelerate the implementation of the relocation and resettlement schemes in light of the urgent need to provide support to Greece and Italy. Yesterday's report responds to the Council's Conclusions, and to the Commission's commitment under the "Back to Schengen" Roadmap.
The EU Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016 provides that for every Syrian being returned from Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU. This principle applies as of 4 April 2016. Priority is given to migrants who have not previously entered or tried to enter the EU irregularly.
Following the EU-Turkey Statement, the Commission adopted a proposal on 21 March to make 54,000 places not yet allocated out of the of the 160,000 places foreseen for relocations available for the purpose of resettling Syrians from Turkey to the EU.
For More Information
Proposal for a Council Decision amending Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 of 22 September 2015 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece
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