Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform) submitted proposals to the European Commission to more smoothly relocate asylum seekers to other member states that are currently in Italy and Greece.
"We see that there are some actions that could be taken, without amending the current Council decisions, to ensure more efficient relocation processes," Pevkur said in a letter sent to EU Commissioner Dmitris Avramoupoulos. He also listed the reasons that have prevented Estonia from accepting refugees from Italy so far.
Pevkur suggested that member states along the outer border of the EU should help by letting their authorities better cooperate with expert teams of target countries. This would involve closer cooperation with Frontex, EASO and Europol as well. This would help alleviate the current shortcomings of the processes and minimize risks to the internal security and public order in the EU.
Estonia’s position is that target countries of the relocation program should be able to carry out preliminary checks and interviews on the spot. Applicants would benefit from the single point of contact during the entire relocation process, Pevkur went on to say, a person arriving in the first country being identified, registered and confirmed as belonging to the relocation group. Once that was done, the authorities of the target country would proceed with the case.
The second Estonian proposal is that anyone who didn't submit an application for international protection, or can’t justify their need for protection, should not be included in the relocation plan.
The third proposal is that priority should be given to the relocation of persons in possession of documents.
The fourth is that persons to be relocated should be limited to reception centers until their relocation, especially if they have no documents.
The fifth proposal deals with fingerprint capture and transmission, which it considers important for performing security checks. Getting their fingerprints should be a precondition for the inclusion of a person in the relocation group. This is also in accordance with the Eurodac regulation and overall EU Asylum Acquis.
Finally, Pevkur suggested that persons who do not submit an asylum application should swiftly be sent back to their country of origin.
Between 21 December 2015 and 11 January 2016 eight files were submitted by the Italian authorities. The Estonian proposals are based on the shortcomings of that information, the minister added.
Estonia has pledged to accept about 550 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece under the EU migration package over two years. No asylum seekers have been relocated to Estonia yet.
Overall, the process of relocation has advanced very slowly, with altogether less than 500 people relocated to other countries from Italy and Greece so far, compared to 160,000 people that member states have undertaken to relocate during the coming two years.
Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn