Saturday

17th Aug 2019

EU states fall short on asylum targets

  • Avramopoulos: 'This shows that a voluntary scheme is difficult to implement and whenever it was tried before, it has failed' (Photo: European council)

Interior ministers in Brussels on Monday (20 July) fell short of a European Commission-proposed target to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers arriving in Greece and Italy over the next two years.

Instead they agreed to relocate 32,356 with Austria and Hungary refusing to take any asylum-seekers, despite the plan being billed by EU leaders last month as a demonstration of European solidarity.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The original relocation proposal announced earlier this year by the European commission called for a binding distribution of 40,000 people to alleviate the asylum demand pressure on Greece and Italy, where most migrants first land after crossing the Mediterranean.

“I want to be frank with you. I am disappointed that this did not happen today but it was a very important step forward”, EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said after the meeting.

“This shows that a voluntary scheme is difficult to implement and whenever it was tried before, it has failed.”

The remaining eight thousand will be allocated by the end of the year, he said.

Most will be nationals with a 75-percent or greater asylum recognition rate like Eritreans, Syrians, and Iraqis.

Germany (10,500) and France (6,752) have offered to take the most.

Both the UK and Ireland have opt-in on justice and home affairs policies and don’t have to participate. But Ireland decided to take in 600 people anyway.

Denmark’s opt-out clause on justice issues means it won’t be involved.

Spain offered to take 1,300, a difference of several thousand from the commission’s original proposal. Poland also baulked and agreed to 1,100, fewer than half of what the commission suggested.

“The Spaniards had some difficulties with the figures proposed by the Commission”, said a French diplomat.

A Polish diplomat told this website that Poland is not prepared to take in asylum seekers due to concerns about its troubled neighbour Ukraine.

He said Poles are afraid that around 1.2 million internally displaced Ukrainians will push across the border if a full-blown war breaks out with Russia.

Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn, for his part, said relocation could start in October, noting that some of the figures proposed “are slightly disappointing”.

Hungary says No to everything

Asselborn noted some are not pulling their weight on resettlement. Resettlement refers to taking in refugees from camps – mainly housing Syrians - in places like Turkey and Lebanon. Turkey is hosting around 1.8 million refugees.

But Hungary said No to refugees as well. Its right wing PM Viktor Orban earlier this year described the commission’s plan as "mad and unfair" and launched anti-immigrant campaigns, in part, to win votes from the far-right Jobbik party at home.

“We have to think about the image that gives to the outside world”, said Asselborn.

Ministers would have missed the 20,000 resettlement target too had non-EU member states not offered to help.

Non-EU member states Norway said it would take in 3,500 refugees, more than any other EU member state.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland also chipped in, pushing the total figure to 22,504.

Greece agreed to resettle around 350 and Italy almost 2,000.

The commission, for its part, will propose a bill before the end of year for a fixed emergency system “to address future emergencies” on asylum demands.

Investigation

EU may extend 'passenger name records' to rail and sea

Documents reveal that EU states are considering broadening requirements on keeping passenger records, currently only applicable to air carriers, to providers of other modes of transport.

UK taking 'steps' after illegal copying of EU Schengen data

According to a classified report, the UK made illegal copies of EU security data, and its disregard for EU rules on handling such data was a "serious and immediate risk". The Commission now says "practical steps" have since been taken.

EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'

EU states ought to undergo a yearly "Rule of Law Review Cycle" to help stop countries such as Hungary, Poland, and Romania from backsliding on EU norms, the European Commission has said.

News in Brief

  1. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us