The European Commission has adopted its 14th progress report on relocation of asylum seekers within the EU and resettlement of refugees from outside the EU. The considers that that there is ‘good progress’ in the resolution of the situation.
“With relocations reaching record levels in June (with over 2,000 relocated from Greece and almost 1,000 from Italy) and almost all Member States pledging and transferring regularly, relocating all those eligible remains feasible before September. However, more efforts are needed to accelerate transfers from Italy, especially in view of the current situation in the Central Mediterranean. Meanwhile, good progress continues to be made on resettlement and the Commission has launched a new pledging exercise to resettle the most vulnerable people from Libya, Egypt, Niger, Ethiopia and Sudan while continuing resettlements from Turkey.” – says the communication issued by the European Commission.
“Looking at the results achieved so far, one thing is very clear: relocation works if the political will is there. What we need now is a final push to achieve our common goal of relocating the vast majority of the asylum seekers present and eligible in Greece and Italy by September,” – EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said. “Italy in particular is under enormous pressure and I call on all Member States to further step up their relocation efforts from Italy. The EU won’t leave countries with an external border alone and the Commission will continue to ensure that all Member States comply with their legal obligations when it comes to relocation” – Avramopoulos underlined.
In parallel, the Commission taking forward the infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for what it defines “failing to meet their legal obligations on relocation”.
According to the Commission the pace of relocation has continued to increase over recent months, with transfers reaching more than 1,000 every month since November 2016 and June 2017 representing a new record monthly high with over 3,000 transfers. As of 24 July, the total number of relocations stands at 24,676 (16,803 from Greece; 7,873 from Italy).
However, the Commission insists on continuous efforts needed for around 4,800 candidates currently awaiting relocation from Greece — with the number likely to increase to 6,800 — and continuous arrivals of eligible candidates to Italy. Italy still needs to urgently enrol eligible arrivals in 2016 and the first half of 2017 in the scheme. This concerns in particular Eritreans of whom around 25,000 have arrived in Italy since the beginning of 2016 but of which only 10,000 have been registered for relocation. As outlined in the Commission’s Action plan to support Italy, the Italian authorities should swiftly register all Eritreans currently present in the country and centralise the relocation procedure in dedicated hubs. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is supporting Italy’s efforts with an online outreach campaign to identify all potential applicants.
In this final phase, it is crucial, according to the Commission’s opinion, that Member States accelerate relocations and provide enough pledges to relocate all eligible applicants, including those who are likely to arrive until 26 September. In any case, Member States’ legal obligation to relocate will not cease after September: the Council Decisions on relocation apply to all persons arriving in Greece or Italy until 26 September 2017 and eligible applicants must be relocated within a reasonable timeframe thereafter.
A number of Member States are close to fully fulfilling their relocation obligations: Malta, Latvia and also Norway — a Schengen Associated State participating voluntarily in the scheme — have all relocated their full allocations for Greece and Sweden who only started relocation in June will have relocated almost 60% of its allocation. The Commission also welcomes the recently-announced increase in the monthly pledges by Spain and the announced acceleration in the pace of transfers by Germany.