Controversial resettlement plan part of ‘European Agenda on Migration’

The European Commission has presented a plan including “immediate measures” to be taken to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years to “better manage migration in all its aspects”.

The plan, officially termed a “European Agenda on Migration”, is being received with misgivings among some of the EU’s member states, including the UK, which does not approve of its provision for spreading the burden of resettlement of migrants.

Under EU law the UK, Ireland and Denmark are not obliged to join any EU quota scheme for housing migrants, the BBC said. The UK says the EU should focus more on fighting human traffickers who exploit migrants, put their lives at risk, and fuel the influx into southern Europe.

The European Commission, in a statement on the plan on May 13, said, that the plight of thousands of migrants putting their lives in peril to cross the Mediterranean has shocked “and it has become clear that no Member State can or should be left alone to address huge migratory pressures”.

The commission said that the plan sets out a European response, combining internal and external policies, making best use of EU agencies and tools, and involving all actors: member states, EU institutions, international organisations, civil society, local authorities and third countries (meaning, non-EU countries).

“There is political consensus in the European Parliament and the European Council following the recent tragedies in the Mediterranean to mobilise all efforts and tools at our disposal to take immediate action to prevent more people from dying at sea,” the Commission said, announcing key points of the plan:

*Tripling the capacities and assets for the Frontex joint operations Triton and Poseidon in 2015 and 2016. An amending budget for 2015 was adopted on May 13 to secure the necessary funds – a total of 89 million euro, including 57 million euro in AMIF and five million euro in ISF emergency funding for frontline member states – and the new Triton Operational Plan will be presented by the end of May;

* Proposing the first ever activation of the emergency mechanism to help member states confronted with a sudden influx of migrants under the article of the treaty that governs the functioning of the EU.

“By the end of May, the Commission will propose a temporary distribution mechanism for persons in clear need of international protection within the EU.”

A proposal for a permanent EU system for relocation in emergency situations of mass influxes will follow by the end of 2015;

* Proposing, by the end of May, an EU-wide resettlement scheme to offer 20 000 places distributed in all EU countries to displaced persons in clear need of international protection in Europe with a dedicated extra funding of 50 million euro for 2015 and 2016;

* Working on a possible Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operation in the Mediterranean to dismantle traffickers’ networks and fight smuggling of people, in accordance with international law.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, Federica Mogherini said: “With this bold agenda, the European Union has proven itself ready to address the plight of those escaping from wars, persecution and poverty.

“Migration is a shared responsibility of all member states and all member states are called now to contribute to tackling this historical challenge,” she said, in what observers saw as a response to the concerns by the UK and other countries.

“And this is not only a European but a global challenge: with this agenda we confirm and broaden our co-operation with the countries of origin and transit in order to save lives, clamp down on smuggling networks and protect those in need. But we all know that a real, long term response will come only from fixing the root causes; from poverty to instability caused by wars, to the crises in Libya and Syria,” Mogherini said.

(Photo: Frontex)



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.