Relocation and Resettlement: EU Member States urgently need to deliver
Yesterday, the Commission gave an update on the progress made up until 11 April 2016 and assesses the actions undertaken by Member States to implement the emergency relocation and European resettlement schemes. Overall, progress since the Commission's first report has been unsatisfactory: on relocation, little progress has been made since mid-March, while we see good progress on resettlement. Good progress on resettlement is also the result of the EU-Turkey agreement which has shifted greater focus onto resettlement efforts. Greater efforts on relocation, however, are increasingly urgent in view of the humanitarian situation in Greece.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “EU Member States need to urgently deliver on their political and legal commitment to relocate persons in need of international protection from Greece and Italy. We cannot be satisfied with the results achieved so far. Relocation efforts have to be increased dramatically to reply to the urgent humanitarian situation in Greece and to prevent any deterioration of the situation in Italy. Member States also need to speed up and increase their resettlement efforts. To effectively close the backdoor to irregular and dangerous migration routes, we have to open safe and legal routes to Europe forpeople in need of international protection. With the EU-Turkey agreement and the 1:1 mechanism in force, it has become even more urgent for Member States to deliver swiftly on their resettlement commitments.”
In its First Report on Relocation and Resettlement of 16 March 2016, the Commission set a target to relocate at least 6,000 persons by the time of the Second Report. This target has not been met. Only 208 additional persons have been relocated during the reporting period, bringing the total number of relocated applicants from Greece and Italy to 1,145. Relocation efforts were made by only a few Member States and associated States.
Based on the latest information available, between 35,000 and 40,000 persons in Greece would be eligible for relocation. In yesterday's report, the Commission calls on Member States to drastically increase their relocation efforts to alleviate the urgent humanitarian situation in Greece and prevent the deterioration of the situation in Italy, where migration flows are increasing. EU Heads of State or Government have systematically called in European Council Conclusions for the acceleration of relocation efforts. These calls made must now be matched with determined action by the competent national services on the ground.
The Commission continues to believe that if all stakeholders, and particularly the Member States of relocation, deliver on their commitments, the targets can and will be met. The Commission will continue monitoring the implementation of the recommendations and targets included in the First Report on Relocation and Resettlement reserving the right to take action where Member States are not complying with their obligations.
Based on the information received from Member States and Dublin Associated States, 5,677 displaced people in need of protection were resettled to 15 countries since the start of the EU resettlement scheme agreed on 20 July 2015.
While under the Conclusions of 20 July 2015, Member States agreed on a rather broad spectrum of priority regions for resettlement, it is expected that following the EU-Turkey statement of 18 March 2016, most of the approximately 16,800 remaining places for resettlement in the framework of this scheme should take place from Turkey. On 21 March 2016, the Commission tabled a proposal to make available 54,000 further places for resettlement or other forms of legal admission from Turkey, which had been initially foreseen for relocation.
The EU and Turkey agreed on 18 March 2016 to resettle one Syrian from Turkey for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey after arriving irregularly on the Greek islands. This 1:1 mechanism aims to replace irregular flows of migrants travelling in dangerous conditions across the Aegean Sea by an orderly and legal resettlement process.
In view of implementing the 1:1 mechanism, in the short time it has been applied since 4 April 2016, 37 Syrians were resettled to Germany, 11 to Finland and 31 to the Netherlands.
The Commission together with the Member States and the Turkish authorities and in coordination with the European Asylum Support Agency (EASO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has been working on fast-track Standard Operating Procedures for the implementation of the resettlement part of the 1:1 scheme with Turkey. The final endorsement of the Standard Operating Procedures by the EU and Turkey is expected to take place swiftly.
Regular updates on the number of returns and resettlements and the deployment of EASO and Frontex agents under the EU-Turkey agreement can be found here. The Commission will report on the implementation of the agreement on 20 April 2016.
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.
The European Council on 7 March called for an acceleration of the implementation of relocation, in order to alleviate the heavy burden on Greece. Yesterday's report responds to the Council's Conclusions, to the obligation under Article 12 of the two Council Decisions on Relocation, and to the Commission's commitment under the Roadmap "Back to Schengen".
The Commission adopted on 16 March the First Report on Relocation and Resettlement.
On 8 June 2015, the Commission adopted a proposal on a European Resettlement Scheme, which was followed by an agreement among the Member States of 20 July 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 is one of the important tools of the plan, aiming at supporting Turkey in dealing with the increasing amount of refugees, as well as at offering a safe and legal way to come to Europe for the persons in real need of protection.
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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