EU migration deal: Just under 80 people a year may be resettled in Estonia

Vao Refugee Center, one of two such facilities in Estonia.
Vao Refugee Center, one of two such facilities in Estonia. Source: Anastasiya Krasnozhon

A agreement on migration and asylum concluded between European Member states Thursday means up to 79 people in one year could be relocated to Estonia, 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported from Brussels. The quota does not relate to those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Hailed in some quarters as "historic", the development means assessment of asylum applications of those arriving at the EU's borders should take place more rapidly than before, ERR reports.

Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets (SDE) told AK that: "It is vital for us that if there large waves of migration to Europe arrive in the future, Estonia will be in a position to help in one way or another. We would have no obligation to resettle these refugees immediately."

As such, this represented a major step for many EU member states, though only half the process is complete - negotiations with the European Parliament ito establish the migration agreement's final text must start next.

Swedish Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard said: "We have found a compromise that ensures fast, fair and efficient procedures for applicants that most likely not in need international protection, while at the same time, ensuring that this task is not overburdening to the member states located at the external borders."

The requirement can, however, be waived, by paying €20,000 per person to any country which says it is struggling with migration.

EU states together should redistribute around 30,000 migrants who have illegally crossed the union's external border, as a matter of solidarity, it was agreed.

This is the case regardless of whether the arrivals are under international protection or not. As noted, the quota for Estonia would stand at 79 people. In general, member states can apply for €20,000 in aid per person where difficulties are experienced. Other practical support may also be provided.

Ukrainians who have received temporary protection in Estonia would not fall under this quota, though in assessing the migration picture in the EU in the future, they may be taken into account.

While Poland and Hungary voted against the agreement, unanimity was not required for the decision to be made. The negotiations with the legislature are to be concluded by April 2024.

European Commissioner for Home AffairsYlva Johansson expressed confidence that despite the seemingly different starting points, past experience shows that common ground on this issue can be met.

Twenty-one of the 27 EU member states, including Estonia, endorsed the deal, which could see one of the largest overhauls of the EU's asylum system for many years.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

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