France and Germany call EU to revise asylum plan (6)

Mediterranean refugees
6/1/2015 3:59 PM
Category: International

Europe's leading powers France and Germany on Monday called on the European Union (EU) to revise its plan to admit asylum seekers landing in Europe.

The joint press release of Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maizière, French and German Ministers of Interior respectively, said that France and Germany are willing to consider the proposal of the European Commission (EC) to settle 40,000 Mediterranean refugees across the EU, but such a mechanism must remain temporary and exceptional and must be part of a global approach on migration.

“This temporary relocation mechanism should be based on two equally important principles: responsibility and solidarity. We believe that the balance between these two principles is not yet reached in the proposal submitted by the EC. To achieve this, detailed discussions will be needed at EU level,” the ministers said.

The ministers came up with their own proposals. Migrants arriving in the country of first entry should be directed to the waiting centers ("hotspots") located near the landing sites. Proper identification and registration according to European rules will be carried out first, followed by a specific procedures adapted to their situation. Some of the asylum seekers in clear need for protection will be relocated in other member states, according to the agreed distribution key, but bogus migrants must be promptly returned.

French and German colleagues also said that beyond this relocation mechanism, the EU must find ways to limit secondary migration, that would jeopardize its intention to achieve a balanced distribution of asylum seekers in clear need of protection and help.

The EC proposed migrant quotas on May 27, under which each individual EU member state should provide safe haven for certain number of refugees.

Under the proposal, 40,000 people would be relocated from Italy and Greece to other EU member states over the next 2 years. Member states, including Estonia, will receive 6,000 euros for each person relocated on their territory. According to the plan, Estonia should admit 738 people currently in Italy and Greece. In addition, the commission also recommended EU members to resettle 20,000 people from outside the EU and Estonia's share would be 326 displaced persons.

Estonian politicians and experts alike agree that the country does not have in place systems that would allow it to successfully receive and assimilate so many people in just two years. The debate is now moving away from whether to accept asylum seekers, focusing rather on how to do it without repeating the mistakes of others.

Currently, five EU member states – France, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Hungary – share 75 percent of asylum seekers and this situation is no longer sustainable.

EU's third largest power, the United Kingdom, has said that it will opt out from the quota plan. Britain, Denmark and Ireland have exemptions on matters concerning asylum, immigration, visas and external border controls, based on protocols agreed in the EU's Lisbon treaty.

S. Tambur

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