Thursday

7th Jul 2022

EU presidency drafts 'solidarity' declaration on migrants

  • Relocations stemming from search and rescues are part of the French EU presidency plan (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)
Listen to article

A draft declaration by the French EU presidency is proposing a voluntary system for member states to relocate migrants as part of a wider deal on asylum reforms.

The text touches upon some of the most sensitive and contentious issues that have in the past doomed EU asylum and migration reforms.

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

Set to be discussed by EU interior ministers on Friday (10 June), the draft declaration lays out a vision for solidarity, a term that has been bantered around with various iterations for years.

This time the draft declaration would commit EU states to implement a "voluntary, simple and predictable solidarity mechanism" to help other countries most affected by migratory pressure.

It would require those willing to relocate migrants rescued at sea and people in need of international protection, with both Cyprus and the Greek islands getting a special mention.

Population size and GDP would determine how many people contributing member states would need to take in.

Those who refuse would instead commit to offer "material solidarity" like border surveillance and detention or money to EU states most affected by migratory pressure.

"A minimum indicative contribution for each participating member state will be foreseen, so that this target is not reduced exceedingly in case a low number of member states take part in relocation, " it says.

The European Commission would then be tasked to coordinate and oversee the system.

The presidency idea is precursor to the commission's proposal in late 2020, which calls for a "compulsory solidarity mechanism."

The commission's original idea would require EU states to either relocate asylum seekers, sponsor the returns of rejected asylum seekers, or possibly offer some other form of aid.

The issue has taken on particular importance for the so-called 'Med 5' or Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain.

All want it and have made its progress contingent on accepting other aspects of the EU's migration overhaul.

This includes reforms on the biometric database Eurodac and the screening regulation, which could lead to detention centres at the borders.

Both proposals are also being discussed by the ministers on Friday with the French EU presidency hoping to get some sort of agreement for the end of its six month mandate.

The draft declaration calls for relocations to start once the Council, representing member states, reach some sort of an agreement on Eurodac and screening.

The two files have been going through the Council machinery as part of a "step by step" approach by the French EU presidency to resolve differences.

But its compromise on the fine print on Eurodac, for instance, has been met with resistance from more hawkish EU states like Austria, Hungary and Poland.

French interior minister Gérald Darmanin, speaking on the behalf of the EU presidency, already appeared hopeful.

"Everybody was in agreement to have an important dose of responsibility and some mandatory solidarity," he told reporters in February, following a meeting with EU interior ministers.

Ukraine war complicates Mediterranean 'solidarity' plan

The French EU presidency proposal seeks to relocate 10,000 asylum seekers, arriving from the Mediterranean, over one year. But with refugees from Ukraine stretching national reception systems, it remains unclear how many EU states will commit to relocations.

Opinion

Expect Czech EU presidency to downgrade V4 priorities

The Czech Republic is already in the throes of an extremely difficult period — several waves of Covid, high inflation, energy fears, an influx of Ukrainian refugees and a Prague corruption scandal. Now it has the EU presidency.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Russia influence debate leads to MEP mudslinging
  2. Johnson quits, leaving Brexit headaches to successor
  3. Is Orban holding out an olive branch to EPP?
  4. EU should freeze all EU funds to Hungary, says study
  5. Legal action looms after MEPs back 'green' nuclear and gas
  6. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  7. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  8. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us