Thursday

12th Dec 2019

One year after launch, EU fails on relocation

EU-led efforts to relocate people seeking international protection from Italy and Greece to other EU states remain dismal.

The two-year plan, broadly hatched last September, aims to dispatch some 160,000 people arriving on Italian and Greek shores to other EU states.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

But one year in and less than 3 percent of that total have found a new home outside either country. Some ended up in non-EU states like Norway and Switzerland, which are also part of the scheme.

As of earlier this month, just over 1,000 people left Italy and 3,493 people left Greece.

The European Commission, which masterminded the scheme, on Monday (5 September) urged national governments to step up efforts, but declined to answer questions on potential sanctions if they failed to meet the quotas.

"Relocations are still taking place, the last flights from Greece took place on the second of September," an EU commission spokeswoman told reporters in Brussels.

In July, the commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, sent a letter to the 28 EU interior ministers imploring them to relocate more people.

Since his appeal, in the period covering August and the first few days of September, member states took in 831 more people. Most went to France, Finland and the Netherlands.

Austria, Hungary, and Poland have yet to relocate anyone. Others, such as the Czech Republic, have relocated just handfuls of people.

France took the most, with 1,431 from Greece alone.

Pledges from EU states to help Greece with border staff and asylum experts have also failed to fully materialise.

Meanwhile, the issues and the numbers remain sensitive.

Hungary has launched an anti-immigrant campaign in the lead up to a national referendum on 2 October on whether to boycott the EU relocation scheme.

The German government is paying a political cost for taking in asylum seekers - on Sunday, the anti-immigrant AfD party beat chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party in regional elections.

In Austria, the EU faces the prospect of having its first far-right head of state, as the FPO party’s candidate, Norbert Hofer, again leads opinion polls ahead of a presidential run-off on 2 October.

Greece returns

Some 50,000 asylum seekers and migrants remain stuck in Greece amid a recent spike in arrivals on the Greek islands since the failed military coup in Turkey in July.

But the EU commission remains intent on getting Greece to start accepting returns from other member states before the end of the year.

Last December, it announced that Greece would return to the so-called Dublin regulation.

The law largely requires the member state where an asylum seeker first entered to process the application. Many slip through and lodge their applications in places like Germany or Sweden instead.

The same law allows EU states to return those people back to the country where they first entered.

Returns to Greece were suspended in 2011 following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on inhumane conditions. But the commission, along with Germany, want that reversed.

Orderly system

"What we want to have is an orderly system whereby refugees who enter Europe have asylum claims treated by the first country they enter into," said the EU commission on Monday.

Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere was more explicit.

On Sunday, he told Welt am Sonntag newspaper that Greece must improve its handling of refugees.

"This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to the Dublin regulations," he said.

This article originally stated that 65 people had been relocated in August and the start of September. This is incorrect. The correct figure is 831. This article was updated at 12:25 on 6 September 2016.

Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres

A trend has emerged over the past few months where desperate people are paying to get locked up in Libyan detention centres to escape the conflict and with the hope they stand a better chance of getting resettled to Europe.

Finnish EU presidency brief broadly offshores migration

A Finnish EU presidency paper on migration, designed to feed into the new European Commission, lays out a vision to prevent irregular migration, forced displacement, and boost cooperation on return and readmission.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs protest against PM Babis over EU subsidy 'fraud'
  2. EU disbursed €2.7bn for Turkey refugees
  3. UK ports set to host EU border checks for Northern Ireland
  4. EU puts tech giants in crosshairs
  5. Faroe Islands under pressure to chose Huawei
  6. Hungary asked to apologise after council leak
  7. MEPs: Finnish budget proposal 'impossible to implement'
  8. EP committee supports 'Future of EU Conference'

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

Feature

Malmo, a segregated city - separating fact from fiction

Despite the neighbourhood's beautiful name, the reputation of Rosengård (Rose Garden) does not so much evoke images of roses as headlines of crime and social challenges. This area of Malmö has been struggling with its notorious, mythical, image for years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Leaders to battle on climate target and money at summit
  2. Von der Leyen: 'Green Deal is our man-on-moon moment'
  3. North Atlantic mini states in geopolitical turbulence
  4. Survey marks EU optimism on eve of UK's Brexit election
  5. Six priorities for human rights
  6. European shipping's dirty secret
  7. Hungary quizzed over EU rules amid twitter row
  8. Spanish King meets party leaders to break deadlock

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us