The EU Parliament said that EU countries must fulfill their obligations to accept asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, giving priority to unaccompanied minors. The Parliament further said that Malta and Finland were the only member states on track to reach their target and that relocation measures must be extended until the reform of the “Dublin” asylum system. The EU Commission was also urged to consider infringement procedures. Most member states still lag behind their targets and two are still not participating in the scheme at all.
MEPs have furthermore condemned the fact that despite having agreed to take in 160,000 refugees from both countries by September 2017, EU member states have relocated just 11% of their total obligations. They find the lack of solidarity and responsibility-sharing disappointing. The Parliament urged EU countries to honor their commitments and prioritize the relocation of unaccompanied children and other vulnerable applicants. MEPs point out that “only one single unaccompanied minor was relocated so far”.
MEPs also criticized a number of member states for “very restrictive and discriminatory preferences, such as granting relocation only to single mothers or excluding applicants from specific nationalities, such as Eritreans, and applying very extensive security checks”. Parliament also made clear that even if relocation targets are not reached by September, EU countries will have to continue transferring eligible applicants. MEPs also think that the relocation scheme should be extended until the new Dublin Regulation on asylum is adopted.
To address the refugee crisis in the summer of 2015, the EU adopted two emergency measures to relocate asylum seekers – to accept 160,000 migrants with a high chance to be granted refugee status from Italy and Greece and to grant 54,000 places out of 160,000 to be used for the admission of Syrian refugees from Turkey, as part of the EU-Turkey migration agreement. According to UNHCR data, around 50,000 asylum-seekers are still in Greece, while Italy logged a new record last year with 181.436 new arrivals.