EU Commission: Need for a renewed push on relocation and resettlement

Despite February setting a new monthly record with around 1,940 relocations, the current pace of relocation is still well below expectations and below the European Council endorsed target of at least 3,000 monthly relocations from Greece and the target set by the Commission of at least 1,500 monthly relocations from Italy.

Overall, 13,546 relocations have been carried out so far, 3,936 from Italy and 9,610 from Greece. Most importantly, the current pace will not allow for the relocation of all eligible applicants currently present in Greece and Italy by September 2017 – despite this being perfectly feasible. So far, only two Member States (Malta and Finland) are on track to meet their obligations for both Italy and Greece, whereas some (Hungary, Austria and Poland) are still refusing to participate in the scheme at all and others are doing so on a very limited basis (Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia).

Italy, Greece, the EU agencies and international organisations have increased their capacities and are ready and on stand-by to facilitate meeting the monthly targets. It is now for the other Member States to equally deliver on their obligations. The Commission urges the Maltese Presidency and Member States to follow up on the Commission’s call at the March Justice and Home Affairs Council. If Member States do not increase their relocations soon, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the Treaties for those who have not complied with the obligations stemming from the Council decisions, noting that the legal obligation to relocate those eligible will not cease after September.

Conversely, progress on resettlement continues to be promising. Member States have provided safe and legal pathways to 14,422 persons so far, over half of the agreed 22,504 under the EU resettlement scheme. This includes the resettlement of 3,565 Syrians under the EU-Turkey Statement. Member States are advancing well on preparing further resettlement operations and have indicated they plan to admit a further 34,000 Syrians from Turkey, including via “One for One” resettlement and national schemes. As a consequence, the Commission has revised the funding programmes for the relevant Member States to include €213 million in financial support of resettlement. Moreover, an assessment should be made as to whether the conditions for triggering the Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme for Syrian refuges from Turkey are fulfilled, which would help boost resettlement.