Thursday

24th Jan 2019

EU deadline on refugee pledges misses mark

  • Avramopoulos (r) is set to unveil migrant proposal at the end of September. (Photo: European Commission)

A looming deadline for the EU states to commit to their pledges on how many refugees they will resettle appears to have shifted.

The EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told reporters in Brussels that he had pressed interior ministers on Thursday (14 September) to come forward with numbers ahead of a deadline initially set during the summer.

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

Asked if the Friday (15 September) deadline would be met and whether he was happy with pledges he had received so far - if any - he said the issue would be discussed at the end this month, when the EU commission plans to unveil new migration proposals.

"Encouraging new resettlement commitments will be part of a new migration package that will be presented later this month," he said.

Avramopoulos's comments follow statements by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg early in the week, where he backed UN calls for an additional 40,000 resettlement spaces in Europe.

"Irregular migration will only stop if there is a real alternative to perilous journey," Juncker told MEPs during his state of the union address on Wednesday.

Juncker had also pointed out that EU states last year had "resettled or granted asylum" to over 720,000 refugees - or three times as many as the United States, Canada and Australia combined.

But the figure raises some questions, in terms of resettlement, given that of the 125,835 resettled refugees worldwide in 2016, only 13,275 found a home in an EU member state. A resettled person is someone in need of protection who is brought to the EU from outside Europe.

EU states avoid Africa

The commission wants EU states to take in more people from places like Egypt, Libya, Niger, Ethiopia and Sudan and had set Friday as a deadline to receive spaces for their arrival.

For the past few years, EU states have trailed behind the rest of the world in terms of resettlements from Africa.

Of the almost 39,000 people resettled from Africa last year, only around 1,800 ended up in Europe. The vast majority went to United States, followed by Canada and Australia.

The UN refugee agency call for extra pledges on top of the EU commission demands announced over the summer.

The commission in July had said that it would pay member states €10,000 for every person resettled, capping the fund at €377.5 million - or enough for 37,750 people.

Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Niger and Sudan are among the priority countries in the commission's grand resettlement campaign.

But while EU states have resettled some 17,000 people since 2015, most do not come from Africa.

Around 8,800 are Syrian nationals coming from Turkey, with others arriving from Lebanon, Jordan and, to a lesser extent, Egypt.

Niger - through which the vast majority of migrants travel to reach Libya - has only resettled one person since 2015. Similar figures are cited for Bukino Faso and Mali.

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said on Monday that the "response has been very far from adequate."

He noted that only 6,700 refugees along the routes to Libya had been resettled so far this year.

EU to step up migrant returns

After Juncker's state of the union speech, the EU Commission is set to propose many new measures on migration before the end of the year, with an emphasis on returns, legal routes, and "solidarity" with African states.

Asylum seekers create EU 'limbo' nation

The number of asylum seekers "in limbo" in the EU is likely to be greater than the combined populations of Cyprus and Malta, estimates indicate.

MEPs propose taking in over 200,000 refugees

MEPs in the civil liberties committee voted in favour of taking in more refugees than the Commission wants to or than member states are likely to accept.

Feature

Syrians find troubled homes in Egypt

Despite EU aid, Syrian families are finding it difficult to integrate into Egyptian society, with reports now emerging that some Syrian girls are subjected to genital mutilation.

News in Brief

  1. Greek parliament to vote on Macedonia name deal
  2. Media cut ties to reporter who plagiarised EU stories
  3. Cyprus to host southern EU summit next week
  4. 'Yellow Vest' protesters to run list in EU elections
  5. Barnier: No-deal preparations 'more important than ever'
  6. Commission offers no-deal Brexit help to EU fisheries
  7. OECD: France and Belgium top social spending
  8. Study: Tax evasion cost five time as much as EU budget

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. EU: Italy's choice to end or continue Operation Sophia
  2. European Space Force should only be for defence, says MEP
  3. The demise of the INF treaty: can the EU save arms control?
  4. Stymied on 'golden passports', EU sets up expert group
  5. Tajani wants second term as EU parliament president
  6. EU commissioner floats idea for European space force
  7. France and Germany hope to revive EU with Aachen treaty
  8. May pushes defeated Brexit deal, offers no Plan B

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us