Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Refugee emergency: temporary EU relocation

Yesterday, the interior ministers of the EU member states reached a decision on one important solidarity measure in the face of the refugee emergency: temporary relocation to alleviate the burden of Greece and Italy.

International protection – temporary measures

On 17 September 2015 the European Parliament had adopted its favourable opinion (text here P8_TA-PROV(2015)0324) on the emergency proposal for temporary relocation, and yesterday (22 September) theJustice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council adopted this important proposal from the refugee and migration agenda of the European Commission.

With regard to solidarity it is worth noticing that Ireland has expressed its intention to participate, while Denmark and the United Kingdom remain bystanders.

We note that Hungary was intended to be a beneficiary in the Commission proposal for a Council decision establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy, Greece and Hungary, COM(2015) 451 final (plus annexes).

At the time of writing the adopted decision – renamed and adapted after Hungary declined help - had not been published in the OfficialJournal of the European Union (OJEU), but available through a link on the web page of the JHA Council meeting:

COUNCIL DECISION establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (document 12098/15)

In a nutshell

The web page of the JHA Council meeting explains the decision in a nutshell:

This decision establishes a temporary and exceptional relocation mechanism over two years from the frontline member states Italy and Greece to other member states. It will apply to 120 000 persons in clear need of international protection who have arrived or are arriving on the territory of those member states as from six months before the entry into force until two years after the entry into force.

According to the decision, 66 000 persons will be relocated from Italy and Greece (15 600 from Italy and 50 400 from Greece) . The remaining 54 000 persons will be relocated from Italy and Greece in the same proportion after one year of the entry into force of the decision.

During the press conference (video) Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's minister for immigration and asylum, admitted that the Council did not achieve consensus, but the qualified majority went well beyond the requirements of the treaties.

As for other legal acts, all member states are expected to implement the decision. However, the decision can be adapted for a member state facing an emergency situation.

European Council

Today, 23 September 2015, the members of the European Council meet informally to discuss an overall approach to the refugee crisis and the necessity to establish a credible European migration policy.

In his invitation letter, EUCO president Donald Tusk is also appealing to EU leaders to urgently provide financial donations to the World Food Programme for food support to the 11 million people in Syria and in the region.
Ralf Grahn