EU aims for 6,000 refugee relocations per month
The European Commission wants to speed up efforts to move asylum-seekers from camps in Greece and Italy to other EU countries, aiming for a target of 6,000 relocations per month, the bloc’s top migration official said Thursday.
The pledge, from Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, comes even though EU countries have been slow to deliver on previous pledges to accept refugees under a quota system.
“It’s not simply ambitious, it’s our target and we have received very encouraging feedback from the discussion today,” Avramopoulos told reporters during a meeting of EU interior ministers in Brussels.
He said in recent weeks he has been in touch with “the majority of interior ministers in order to tell them to give us their pledges and increase the numbers and the first results are very positive.”
European countries agreed last summer on a plan to relocate 160,000 refugees across Europe over the next two years, but results have been slow to materialize. So far only 885 refugees have been relocated, according to Commission data.
“If the relocation does not work then the whole system will collapse,” Avramopoulos said. “I am more than optimistic that we shall achieve this goal.”
EU relocation efforts have faced many problems since they were first agreed. Some Eastern European countries opposed the mandatory system but were outvoted in a Council decision. Countries have been slow to implement the plans, refugees have been reluctant to go to countries they don’t like and member states have often asked for further security checks, making the whole process even slower.
Last month the Commission wrote to member countries asking them to speed up the implementation of the relocation schemes, which are legally binding. In theory the Commission could even open legal procedures against reluctant countries, so called ”infringements,” but officials explained it prefers to achieve the goal in a diplomatic way.
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