The European Commission on Wednesday (February 8) adopted its 9th report on the EU’s relocation and resettlement projects, taking stock of the actions taken since December last year. Members States have been stepping up their efforts on resettlement, offering legal and safe ways for refugees and migrants to move from a temporary refugee camp in Italy or Greece to take up a more permanent residence in another EU Member State. EU leaders, however, agreed that more needs to be done to reach the monthly target set by the executive of 1,000 relocations from Italy and 2,000 from Greece.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos commented that “relocating all those eligible in Italy and Greece is possible but it takes political will, commitment and perseverance of all Member States to make it happen.” The temporary emergency relocation scheme was established in 2015 when Member States committed to relocate persons in need of international protection from Italy and Greece. The initial relocation decisions concerned the commitment to relocate almost 99,000 people, after which the Council adopted an amendment to make 54,000 places not yet allocated available for the purpose of legally admitting Syrians from Turkey to the EU.
The European Council has already previously called for an acceleration of the implementation of the relocation scheme in order to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation. The most recent deal – the EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016 – stipulates that for every Syrian being returned from Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU. Priority is given to refugees and migrants who have not previously entered or tried to enter the EU irregularly.