MEPs call for system to relocate refugees in EU

MEPs have called for a permanent system for relocating internationally protected persons within the EU saying it would help to improve asylum policy solidarity among EU member states.

A new resolution voted by the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament also calls for more money for asylum policy, joint processing of asylum applications and a stronger role for the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), to promote closer cooperation among EU countries.

The committee calls on the Commission to include an "EU distribution key" for relocating beneficiaries of international protection in its legislative proposal for a permanent intra-EU relocation mechanism. The system would use objective indicators, such as member states' GDP, population, surface area and beneficiaries' best interests and integration prospects.

Including such a "distribution key" could help EU countries facing disproportionate pressures on their national asylum systems or in emergency situations, say MEPs, who also call on the Commission to study the feasibility of an EU system for relocating asylum seekers.

"We have sent a strong signal to the Commission and to the member states on how we conceive solidarity in the field of asylum through concrete proposals to translate this principle into action. Our message is clear. Now the ball is in the Commission's court. We expect the Commission to come forward with legislative proposals because it is time to change the logic underlying the Common European Asylum System so as to base it on genuine and effective solidarity as well as fair responsibility sharing," said rapporteur Kyriacos Triantaphyllides after the committee vote.

Processing asylum applications jointly would enable member states to support each other at various stages of the asylum procedure, such as identifying applicants, preparing first-instance decisions, conducting interviews or making recommendations. However, the final decision on an asylum application would remain under the responsibility of the member states, the resolution points out.

MEPs want to allocate "sufficient and substantial resources" to the Asylum and Migration Fund, which should be "flexible and easy to mobilise" so as to respond to unforeseen pressures or emergencies. They also call for the creation of a "well-resourced mechanism" to compensate member states receiving higher numbers of asylum seekers and welcome the possibility of increasing Commission contributions to asylum projects.

The EASO has "the potential to promote closer cooperation" among EU member states and to "help reduce the significant divergences in asylum practices," MEPs say. The resolution notes the agency's role "in coordinating and supporting common action" to assist countries which are subject to particular pressures. However, "the impact of the EASO will depend on the willingness of member states to make full use" of its potential, stresses the text.

The current review of today's asylum system should include further reflection "on the development of an equitable responsibility-sharing mechanism" for determining which member state is responsible for processing an asylum application, MEPs add.

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