Thursday

5th Aug 2021

Four EU states want 'automatic' refugee relocation

  • 'The European Union has not shown sufficient solidarity towards countries of first arrival, notably Italy,' French president Emmanuel Macron said (Photo: SOS Mediterranee)

The interior ministers from France, Germany, Italy, and Malta will meet on Monday (23 September) in Malta to discuss an "automatic" system for the relocation of asylum seekers.

European commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos will also attend the meeting in Malta, as well as the Finnish interior minister, since Finland holds the EU presidency.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Countries such as Italy, Spain, and Malta have complained repeatedly over the past few years that other EU member states are not yet appropriately dealing with asylum seekers.

The highest number of registered first-time asylum seekers applicants in 2018 per capita was recorded in Cyprus, ahead of Greece, Malta, and Luxembourg, according to the EU asylum agency EASO - while Italy is the 13th country in the list, below France and Germany.

Last week, French president Emmanuel Macron urged the EU to overcome its "ineffective" migration policy, admitting the disproportion of responsibility between EU frontline states and other countries.

"The European Union has not shown sufficient solidarity towards countries of first arrival, notably Italy," said Macron last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Italy authorised on Sunday the disembarkation of 182 migrants from the Ocean Viking rescue ship, since Malta refused them to disembark in the island because they were rescued outside its territorial waters, according to the NGO SOS Méditerranée.

New proposal

The interior ministers of the four EU countries are expected to discuss how to relocate within Europe those migrant rescued in the Mediterranean sea.

These discussions could also involve Malta, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, and Spain shortly, the Italian newspapers Repubblica and Stampa reported.

The objective of the meeting is to negotiate a temporary and voluntary agreement, that would prevent member states from negotiating relocation on a case-by-case basis as it has happened until now.

France and Germany have given their green light to the new system, saying they are ready to take in 25 percent of people rescued at sea.

Italy is willing to host up to 10 percent of the rescued migrants since the country has already hosted tens of thousands of new arrivals.

The acting Spanish interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska has rejected this new system since he believes that "the response of the European Union must be unique and affecting the entire Mediterranean", reported the Spanish press.

Automatic relocation system

In 2015, the commission proposed "a new automated system to monitor the number of asylum applications received and the number of persons resettled by each member state"

However, the attempt of the EU to impose mandatory quotas of refugees did not work as planned and six member states (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, and Italy) said the Commission proposal did not comply with the principle of subsidiarity.

Negotiations about the revision of the 'Dublin regulation' began last July in Helsinki, at a meeting of all 28 EU interior ministers, including Italy's former interior minister, Matteo Salvini.

The ministers of foreign affairs of Italy and Malta, Enzo Moavero and Carmelo Abela, sent a joint document to EU officials referring to the complex situation in the Mediterranean sea and seeking emergency solutions.

"Reforming the Dublin regulation is not enough, we need to go further and take care of all migrants," said the statement.

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte said earlier this week that the migration phenomenon must be coordinated at European level.

"We must work as soon as possible to change the Dublin regulation," he said.

France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

French president Emmanuel Macron is pressing for an automated distribution of rescued migrants at sea - but also stands accused of tightening asylum rules in his own country as a response to the far-right.

'Migration' is now 'protecting European way of life'

The upcoming European Commission has shuffled migration policy into a euphemistic new "Protecting our European Way of Life" European commissioner portfolio, headed by former spokesman Margartis Schinas. Some MEPs are not happy.

Analysis

Will EU keep paying to keep migrants away?

The EU has made deals with several countries, such as Libya, Turkey, and Niger, to keep asylum seekers far away from Europe. Now it is planning to relocate some migrants to Rwanda, in response to the Libya migration crisis.

EU migrant boat plan fails to get extra support

Only seven out of 28 EU states have so far supported a draft plan to disembark and relocate migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean, following a meeting in Luxembourg.

Ireland agrees to relocate 10 migrants from Italy

Last week, over 2,000 people arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Efforts to relocate some of them to other member states is proving tricky. Meanwhile, another 400 have been stuck on a boat for the past two days.

Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals

Italy's interior minister Luciana Lamorgese has requested the EU convene an home affairs ministerial to discuss migrant and refugee arrivals - as NGOs seek to disembark over 800 rescued people.

News in Brief

  1. EU secures deal with Novavax for potential Covid-19 vaccine
  2. France fined €10m for failing to tackle air pollution
  3. Fire near Athens forces thousands to evacuate
  4. EU to Lebanon: 'deliver results' on Beirut blast probe
  5. Belarus opposition leader demands regime end
  6. Croatia's border-monitoring of migrant rights 'falls short'
  7. Court stops Austria's Afghan deportation, as conflict worsens
  8. 'Missing' Belarus exiles group chief found dead in Kyiv

'We are not slaves': Brussels' migrant hunger-strike

Almost 500 undocumented migrants in Brussels have been demanding a legal pathway for residency in Belgium. Most have been on hunger strike since 23 May, with some now refusing water. MEPs are demanding the Belgian government offer them a solution.

Exclusive

EU firms up plans for Libya military mission

The EU is firming up plans for a military mission to Libya in order to compete with foreign powers there, according to a leaked paper seen by EUobserver.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals
  2. WHO calls for vaccine-booster pause to help poor countries
  3. Romania selling on its jabs, despite low vaccination rates
  4. Cyprus' Varosha is Erdogan's canary in the coalmine
  5. Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases
  6. Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion
  7. Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania
  8. Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us