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Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met
18.5.17
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The European Commission has published its 12th report on the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy and progress made in the EU's resettlement scheme, highlighting that while "the number of persons relocated so far in 2017 is almost as many as in the whole of 2016.... the current pace of relocation is still below what is needed to meet the targets set to ensure that all those eligible are relocated over the coming months."

However, the total number of people actually eligible for relocation (around 35,000) is massively below the number of people the Member States agreed to relocate (160,000) - thus making it possible for them to meet their obligations without doing what was originally promised.

Relocation

The Commission's report notes:

"The positive trend on relocation has continued with an additional 2,078 persons relocated since the last report (1,368 from Greece and 710 from Italy). As of 12 May, 18,418 relocations have been carried out in total; 5,711 from Italy and 12,707 from Greece. However, despite the continuing positive progress, the current pace of relocation is still below what is needed to meet the targets set to ensure that all those eligible are relocated over the coming months."

The Commission continues (emphasis added):

"with the total number of people eligible for relocation present in the two countries being well below what was foreseen in the Council Decisions [160,000] and taking into account the progress registered so far, it is perfectly achievable to relocate all those eligible by September 2017 if Member States demonstrate the political will and determined action to deliver on what they have jointly agreed."

This is because the only people eligible for relocation are those belonging to nationalities:

"for which the average recognition rate of international protection at the EU level is above 75%. Currently three nationalities have such high recognition rates: Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis."

The Presidency of the Council recently pointed out to other Member States (document 8168/17, pdf) the fact that there is no longer any need to relocate the number of people originally foreseen:

"The situation in Italy and Greece has not remained static, which means that the number of persons eligible for relocation, i.e. applicants for international protection originating from third countries whose applicants typically have a high asylum recognition rate, does not match the figures contemplated in the respective Council Decisions. As a matter of fact, there are currently around 20,000 asylum applicants eligible for relocation in Greece, and a little less than 6,000 in Italy.

What this means is that, in practice, a little additional effort on the part of all the Member States would enable the European Union as a whole to meet its commitment to Italy and Greece, and relocate all those eligible for relocation."

Documentation

European Commission press release: Relocation and Resettlement: Commission calls on all Member States to deliver and meet obligations (pdf)

Report: European Commission, Twelfth report on relocation and resettlement (COM (2017) 260 final, 16 May 2017, pdf)

And its annexes (pdfs):

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