EU Resettlement Framework

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EESK:s yttrande: EU Resettlement Framework

Key points

The EESC:

  • calls for a genuine common asylum policy that respects European values. It welcomes the creation of a Union Resettlement Framework;
  • calls on the Union to take more responsibility for people in need of international protection;
  • emphasises its call to construct robust integration systems in the Member States;
  • calls for the common criteria for resettlement to focus on people's need for protection, not on the third country's effective cooperation on asylum. They must also be non-discriminatory;
  • considers the "first country of asylum" and "safe third country" concepts to be open for question due to the current unsafe and unstable situation in the third countries and regions concerned. The EESC is of the opinion that the EU-Turkey Statement is of utmost importance in the current situation. It is in the interest of both the EU and Turkey that the human rights situation is monitored in its implementation;
  • calls for the resettlement programme to be uncoupled from partnership agreements that aim to encourage third countries to prevent refugees from fleeing, as this carries the risk of infringing international law and fundamental rights. It emphasizes that return agreements or other similar cooperation agreements with third countries must not place conditions on measures undertaken in partnership with third countries, nor on development aid more generally;
  • calls for UNHCR to play a key role in identifying third-country nationals or stateless persons to be resettled and opposes special rights enabling third countries to make a selection;
  • questions, according to the Geneva Convention, the blanket exclusion of people who have irregularly stayed in, entered, or attempted to enter the territory of the Member States during the five years prior to resettlement, as well as of people who have been rejected by Member States during the five years prior to resettlement, despite the fact that they otherwise fulfil the eligibility criteria;
  • underlines that resettlement must not impinge upon the right to asylum;
  • is in favour of ambitious goals when it comes to deciding on the annual number of people to be resettled, and recommends treating the figure to be determined by the high-level committee as a minimum number;
  • expects to be involved in the High-Level Resettlement Committee that is to be set up;
  • calls for UNHCR to be permanently involved in the High-Level Resettlement Committee; Broadly speaking, the Commission proposal is not clear as to how, and by means of what procedures, people in need of international protection are to be identified (by UNHCR or by the Member States), nor what role the EU Agency for Asylum will play in these procedures;
  • calls for complementary, alternative reception and funding programmes to be examined, along the lines of Canada's Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program[1]. Institutionalising a tripartite approach – one that involves the Member States, UNHCR and private/civil society actors – would be broadly beneficial to an EU Resettlement Framework.