Parliament puts pressure on Member States to agree on refugee relocation numbers

Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) Immigration

MEPs in the Home Affairs committee of the European Parliament today overwhelmingly voted in favour of a report calling for the equitable distribution of 40,000 refugees across the European Union.

The vote puts pressure on Member States to finally reach an agreement on numbers at the meeting of Justice and Home Affairs ministers next week.

Iliana Iotova, S&D rapporteur for the report said:

"There are currently over 4 million Syrian refugees living abroad and it is frankly embarrassing watching national governments argue over the relocation of a few thousand. We have shown today that politicians from across the political and geographical spectrum can come together and do the right thing. Now it is the turn of Member States to do the same. They must step up and agree to concrete figures on how many refugees each country will take at their meeting next week. We also sent a strong message to the Member States by asking for a legally binding migrant distribution scheme."

"The report also outlines sensible ideas on how to make the process of relocation work for both refugees and Member States. It makes clear that attention must be paid to the needs of those being relocated taking their consent and preferences into account as much as possible. Families should be kept together at all costs and if someone already has a connection with a Member State this must be taken into account. This will help make the process work for everyone and will aid integration. We also must ensure that there is an obligation that the best interest of child migrants is a primary consideration when deciding on the country of relocation."

"I am very pleased by the steps we have taken towards a permanent mechanism for emergency situations. We expect the Commission to propose this as soon as possible, taking into account the dynamic situation both in the Member States and the EU neighbourhood."

Birgit Sippel, S&D Spokesperson for the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee said:

"At least in the European Parliament, reason prevails over national selfishness. We have sent a clear message to the Member States that the time for bickering between ourselves is over. We cannot pretend that this emergency relocation mechanism is a solution to the long term migratory challenge the EU is facing however it is at least a start. We need to establish a permanent mechanism based on solidarity and responsibility-sharing that is adaptable to whatever the future holds."

"More widely we must now work towards a truly common European Asylum policy to prevent the shambles of the last few months becoming the norm.  We cannot continue to build on the Dublin rules that were developed 25 years ago in a very different context! We need to come up with a new set of rules for a workable and fair system. We are only going to be able to do this with greater solidarity and increased cooperation across Europe."