Sunday

24th Mar 2019

EU imposes June deadline on asylum quotas

Non-complying member states have until June to start accepting asylum seekers from Greece and Italy or face possible sanctions and infringements.

EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters on Tuesday (16 May) in Strasbourg that a handful of member states have yet to take in any pre-screened and vetted asylum seekers under a legally-binding policy agreed almost two years ago.

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

"If no action is taken by them before the next report in June, the Commission will not hestitate to make use of its power under the Treaties and to open infringement procedures," he said.

Avramopoulos said it was a question of "political and institutional credibility for the European Union" to take action if nothing is done.

His comments were broadly directed towards Austria, Hungary and Poland, all of which are yet to accept any relocations.

It was also geared towards EU states like the Czech Republic, which have failed to pledge any additional spaces for asylum seekers for a year.

All of them have protested against the scheme, with both Hungary and Slovakia filing legal challenges against the mandatory quotas at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Slovak prime minister Robert Fico had last year described the quota system as "politically dead".

While Austria has reluctantly agreed to take in 50 migrants from Italy, the overall figures remain far below the initial projections.

When the scheme first launched - following decisions in September 2015 - the figures bouncing around had eventually added up to a proposed number of 160,000 to be relocated.

Those numbers have since been revised to just under 100,000 and plummeted even further, given that so few are eligible under the two-year scheme.

With so few people eligible, the European Commission is now claiming that the scheme could become a success noting what it now describes "as a positive trend".

But the "positive trend" has so far only resulted in a grand total of 18,400 relocations.

If EU member states accept those who are currently eligible under the scheme in Greece and Italy, the figure is likely to almost double.

Administrative bottlenecks and other restrictions have further delayed the process. Bulgaria won't accept Eritreans, whereas Slovakia will only admit single women with children and people with travel documents. Additional security screenings mean neither Estonia and Ireland have accepted anyone from Italy.

The commission is also asking other EU states such as Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Romania, Slovakia and Spain to increase their pledges.

"There is a month ahead of us and within this month all member states will take up their responsibilities," Avramopoulos insisted.

Hungary and Slovakia challenge quotas at the EU's top court

During a hearing at the EU's top court, Hungary and Slovakia defended their decision not to take in asylum seekers based on a mandatory quota system, while the European Commission, Germany and others stressed the need for solidarity.

Fewer refugees to be relocated as EU revises targets

An initial plan to relocate 160,000, which was later amended to 98,000, now appears to drop even further after the European Commission said the new objective was to dispatch only eligible asylum seekers from Italy and Greece.

EU threatens sanctions in Czech asylum row

The Czech Republic and the European Commission appear to be gearing up for a legal battle following announcements by Prague to suspend the relocation of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us