Commission well wide of mark in proposal for relocation of asylum seekers

27 May 2015

Commission well wide of mark in proposal for relocation of asylum seekers

The European Commission today presented its proposals for binding European legislation on the relocation of asylum seekers away from Italy and Greece to other EU member states. The SP shares the wish to see more solidarity amongst the member states, but criticises the current proposal for its lack of balance. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, responding to the proposal, said, “With the criteria which the Commission applies the main thing is the number of inhabitants in each member state and their standard of living. Yet the number of inhabitants in itself tells you nothing about a country’s capacity to accommodate asylum seekers if the geographic size of the state in question isn’t taken into account. I don’t expect the member states will find the present criteria acceptable either.’

Foto: US Navy

According to the Commission 75% of asylum seekers arrive via the Mediterranean Sea and it is on this that they have based their proposal for relocation. SP Member of Parliament Sharon Gesthuizen, however, notes that while ‘this is indeed out of all proportion, yet far from all people who enter the EU via Italy or Greece take the opportunity to apply for asylum in those countries. Relocation can certainly lighten the load on these countries, but they must put their own asylum systems in order. The Commission gives this too little attention.’

What’s also missing from the proposal in the SP’s view is any role for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), as well as the establishment of asylum centres in Italy and Greece. De Jong explains the importance of these points. ´It’s unclear how the asylum seekers who qualify for relocation are to be selected,’ he points out. ‘The UNHCR has a great deal of experience when it comes to selecting exceptionally vulnerable asylum seekers, so I’m in favour of them being given the task of selection for relocation. The relocation plan should be embedded in the broader plan for the whole of the Mediterranean region recently published by the UNHCR. In that way we wouldn’t be evading establishing asylum centres in the countries where they are most needed, centres from where the relocation can be organised. The SP launched this proposal two years ago and it must as quickly as possible be brought into the negotiations by the Dutch government.’

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