- The refugee crisis in the EU has reached the point at which the founding principles of human rights protection and democracy are being called into question. The EESC strongly believes that these principles must be upheld and properly implemented and that in these exceptional circumstances we need more Europe, more democracy and more solidarity.
- The current refugee crisis, although foreseeable, occurred because of the absence of a common asylum policy. In this context, the EESC urges the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament to implement Articles 67(2) and 78 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which lay down the conditions for the EU to create a genuine asylum policy.
- The EESC welcomes the efforts made by the European Commission to coordinate a common response to the refugee crisis.
- The crisis relocation mechanism is a concrete example of cooperation based on solidarity and responsibility. The EESC wishes to have this relocation mechanism included in a general strategy in order to ensure coherence and efficiency. There is a need for robust, solidarity-based systems of burden-sharing, especially a permanent, fair and binding system for allocating those seeking protection between all EU countries.
- The European Commission and the other EU institutions must actively support the Member States to provide proper conditions and prospects for integrating the relocated asylum applicants. In this context, it should, inter alia, be clarified that expenditure incurred by the Member States in connection with the reception and integration of asylum-seekers and refugees are long-term, structural expenditure and should not, therefore, be included in the calculation of structural budget deficits.
Delivering on the European Agenda on Migration from May, the European Commission has on 9 September put forward a comprehensive package of proposals which should help address the refugee crisis by alleviating pressure from Member States most affected – notably Greece, Italy and Hungary.
One of the measures announced was a Permanent Relocation Mechanism for all Member States. This structured solidarity mechanism can be triggered any time by the Commission to help any EU-Member State experiencing a crisis situation and extreme pressure on its asylum system as a result of a large and disproportionate inflow of third country nationals. Such future emergency situations would be defined by the Commission based on the number of asylum applications in the last 6 months, per capita as well as the number of irregular border crossings in the last 6 months. The same objective and verifiable distribution criteria will apply as in the emergency relocation proposals. The permanent mechanism will also take into account asylum seekers’ needs, family situation and skills.
A temporary solidarity clause will apply, following which a Member State will have to make a financial contribution to the EU budget of an amount of 0.002% of its GDP if – for justified and objective reasons such as a natural disaster – it cannot temporarily participate totally or in part in a relocation decision. In such a case, the European Commission will analyse the reasons notified by the country and take a decision on whether or not they justify the non-participation of a country in the scheme for a maximum of up to 12 months. In case of partial participation in the relocation, the amount will be reduced in proportion.