Wednesday

24th Apr 2019

EU states breaking pledges on migration

Member states are lagging behind on political promises to mitigate Europe's biggest refugee crisis in recent history.

In late September, EU leaders said they would shore up funding for humanitarian aid and trust funds as well as send in more national experts for EU agencies working in Italy and Greece.

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

But only a handful have so far delivered on helping to match the European Commission’s budget plans on migration and help Frontex, the EU’s border agency, and EASO, the EU’s asylum support office.

Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans on Wednesday (14 October) said “the response is far below what is required”.

Timmermans said that the total spending by the EU on migration for 2015 and 2016 now amounts to around € 9.2 billion after amending the budget by adding another €900 million for next year to help manage the crisis.

“It is now high time for the member states to match these commitments. They’ve promised to do that, they should deliver. The Commission is worried about the gap between what was agreed in September and what has been put on the table until now”, he told reporters.

The three-week pledge gap comes ahead of the EU’s fourth summit on migration this year in Brussels on Thursday.

EU leaders are expected to discuss, among other issues, the funding shortfall, the upcoming Africa conference in Malta, and the Dublin asylum rule, which determines who is responsible for processing applications.

George Patoulis, a Greek mayor of Marousi, a suburban city in the northeastern part of Athens, told this website that municipalities throughout the country are having to improvise due to lack of funds.

“If the municipalities and local communities don’t improvise, then the problem would be much much bigger”, said the centre-right Patoulis.

Several million euros in EU emergency funding were earmarked for Greece in September but Greece had not set up the administration at the time to receive it.

The money

Member states, for their part, are supposed to deliver €500 million into the Syria Trust Fund but have only pledged €8 million to date.

Another €1.8 billion was committed to the Africa Trust Fund. But only Germany, Spain, and Luxembourg have each contributed €3 million so far.

EU Council president Donald Tusk wants all the money pledged ahead of the conference with African states in Malta in mid-November.

But EU leaders are also lagging behind on money to help the UN agency for refugees (UNCHR) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The WFP earlier this year had to stop handing out food vouchers to thousands of Syrian refugees in camps in Jordan because of it.

The plan is reach €1 billion (including the EU contribution of €500 million) but as of 23 September, member states have only come up with €275 million.

Frontex and EASO

Frontex said it needed 775 additional experts to help with screening arriving asylum seekers in Greece and Italy. Belgium, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania and Sweden offered 48.

EASO wanted 374 experts to help provide information to the new arrivals. Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain offered 81.

Both agencies are helping in the distribution of asylum seekers to other member states at so-called hotspots.

People not entitled to asylum and who have not applied for it are returned. Last week, Italy returned 28 Tunisians and 35 Egyptians.

But there is still some confusion among member states on whether a hotspot is a place or a process, according to one senior EU official.

So far, only the hotspot on the Italian island of Lampedusa is fully operational. Others are slated for Augusta, Porte Empedocle, Pozzallo, Taranto and Trapani.

Around 100 asylum seekers from Italy are set to be relocated to Finland, France, Germany, and Portugal this week.

Greece, for its part, should have its first hotspot up and running this week in Lesbos. Others are planned in Chios, Samso, and Leros.

“We are also hoping to launch the first relocation out of Greece if not this week then next week”, said a Commission official.

Luxembourg is set to receive the first batch of relocated asylum seekers from Greece.

Analysis

Bell tolls for EU asylum reforms

The cornerstone the EU's asylum reforms referred to by the shorthand as 'Dublin' could end up in the scrapheap following the European elections in May.

News in Brief

  1. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions
  2. Romania adopts new rules weakening corruption fight
  3. Sturgeon pledges 2nd Scottish independence referendum
  4. Political deadlock looms at Sunday's Spanish election
  5. Le Pen in Copenhagen for talks with new key ally
  6. Trump to meet May and Macron on Europe visit in June
  7. Johnson's sister to run in EU elections on new list
  8. Weber pledges to 'block' Nord Stream 2 as president

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  2. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  3. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  4. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections
  5. Ukraine comic-president invited to EU capitals
  6. Trump's Israel plan to 'test' EU resolve
  7. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  8. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us