EP urges EU countries to speed up relocation of refugees, particularly children
EU countries must fulfil their obligations to take in asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy, giving priority to unaccompanied minors, said Parliament on Thursday.
- Finland and Malta the only member states on track to reach their targets
- Commission must consider infringement procedures
- relocation measures must be extended until the reform of the “Dublin” asylum system
MEPs condemn that, despite having agreed to move 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy by September 2017, EU member states have relocated just 11% of their total obligations (18,770 persons as of 16 May). They find the lack of solidarity and responsibility-sharing disappointing.
In a resolution backed by 398 votes to 134 with 41 abstentions, Parliament urges EU countries to honour their commitments and prioritise the relocation of children without family and of other vulnerable applicants. MEPs point out that “only one single unaccompanied minor was relocated so far”.
MEPs criticise a number of member states for “very restrictive and discriminatory preferences, such as granting relocation only to single mothers or excluding applicants from specific nationalities, such as Eritreans, and applying very extensive security checks”.
Most countries still lag far behind their targets. Four have only been relocating on an extremely limited basis and two member states are still not participating at all, they add.
Parliament makes clear that, even if they have not reached their relocation targets by September, EU countries will have to continue transferring eligible applicants. They also propose extending the relocation scheme until the new Dublin Regulation on asylum is adopted.
Against the background of severe migration and refugee crises in the summer of 2015, the EU adopted two emergency decisions to relocate thousands of refugees. 160,000 asylum seekers with a high chance of being granted refugee status from Italy and Greece were to be relocated by September 2017 to other member states where their applications would be processed.
In a subsequent decision approved by the Council in September 2016 - which was opposed by Parliament - member states agreed that 54,000 out of the 160,000 places could be used for the admission of Syrian refugees from Turkey, as part of the EU-Turkey migration deal, rather than from Italy or Greece.
According to UNHCR data, around 50,000 asylum-seekers are still stuck in Greece, while Italy faced a new record in 2016 with 181.436 new arrivals.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution