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19th Jan 2020

EU may fine countries for rejecting refugees

  • Besides visa liberalisation for Turkey, the EU Commission is due to unveil revised EU asylum rules on Wednesday (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The EU Commission plans to impose fines on countries that refuse to take refugees under revised EU asylum laws to be put forward on Wednesday (4 May).

The commission will propose a sanction of €250,000 per refugee, according to the Financial Times.

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The commission's proposal will maintain the guiding principle of the current system that the country where migrants first step into the EU must deal with asylum applications.

But it proposes that when a country at the EU’s external border is overwhelmed, asylum seekers should be distributed across the continent.

The commission has been trying to encourage reluctant countries, particularly in central and eastern Europe, to take part in the redistribution system.

Slovakia and Hungary have already brought a court case to challenge an earlier EU decision to redistribute migrants based on a mandatory quota.

But commission officials say the outcome of the court’s decision will not affect their plans to overhaul the asylum system, known as the Dublin regulation.

EU countries last year agreed to redistribute 160,000 asylum seekers across Europe in two years, but have so far actually redistributed only a small portion.

Central European politicians have been vocal about an earlier version of the proposal for mandatory redistribution that was released last month.

At the time, Czech European affairs minister Tomas Prouza tweeted: “Permanent quotas once again? How long will the EU commission keep riding this dead horse instead of working on things that really help?”

Diplomats from eastern EU states have told this website that they are not “heartless people” and they are willing to help refugees in other ways, but they believe a redistribution system will simply lead to more immigrants arrive in the EU.

Turkey falling short

Along with the revised Dublin regulation, the commission is expected to recommend visa-free travel for people from Turkey and Kosovo on Wednesday, even if Ankara is not able to fulfil all the 72 benchmarks that the EU set as conditions.

Sources suggest Turkey is falling short on a handful of the demands – for example issuing biometric passports, and granting visa-free travel to Turkey for EU countries including Cyprus, which Turkey does not recognise.

Other outstanding issues include data protection, fighting corruption, effective cooperation with Europol and state-level law enforcement agencies, and a revision of anti-terror laws so that they cannot be used against journalists or opposition figures.

However, the commission will suggest visa-free travel with the condition that these criteria are met by the end of June, when Turkey is expecting visa requirements to be lifted.

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