Relocating and resettling refugees: MEPs discussed EU strategy

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Progress on transferring refugees from Italy and Greece and from third countries hosting large numbers of asylum-seekers were discussed by Civil Liberties MEPs on Thursday.

The deadline for the relocation of 160,000 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece to other EU member states, agreed under two emergency decisions in September 2015, has passed and so far only 29,144 have been relocated. The EU also committed to resettle over 20,000 refugees from non-European countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, in cooperation with UNHCR, and has so far brought to Europe more than 17,000 people.

The European Commission underlined on Wednesday that all eligible persons who arrived to Italy and Greece until 26 September must be moved to other EU countries and appealed to the member states to continue showing solidarity to those in need beyond that date. To avoid that people opt for perilous journeys, putting their lives in the hands of smugglers, the Commission wants to promote resettlement and proposes allocating 500 million euro more for the resettlement of 50,000 asylum-seekers.

In their meeting on Thursday, Civil Liberties Committee MEPs also assessed the deal reached in March 2016 with Turkey to manage migration flows, which led to a drastic reduction of arrivals to the Greek islands. Mr Marten Verwey, EU coordinator for the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement, presented to MEPs the results of this cooperation.

Finally, the Committee heard from the Parliament’s Legal Service on the ruling by the European Court of Justice against Slovakia and Hungary on the relocation scheme. Both countries appealed to the ECJ to annul the second emergency decision, which foresaw the relocation of 120 000 asylum-seekers.

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