EU opens sanction procedure against Member States not implementing the relocation scheme

Ahead of the European Council on 22-23 June, the European Commission presented a report on the progress made by Member States to implement the European Agenda on Migration.

The latest available data on relocation shows that 20,869 people have been currently relocated from Italy and Greece to another Member State. This shows the slow implementation of the scheme that was originally planned to relocate 160.000 people in one year. The Commission has decided to take action against Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland who haven’t yet relocated a single person, in breach of their legal obligations stemming from the Council Decisions. An infringement procedure, that could potentially imply financial penalties, has been launched against these three countries.

Over the past year, SOLIDAR has been calling for more solidarity and responsibility sharing among Member States in advocacy actions in Brussels and other countries in the EU. Our recent visits to the hotspots of Pozzallo (Italy) and the refugee camp of Thessaloniki (Greece) as well as the exchange with local politicians and practitioners, gives a clear picture of the incredible pressure which is put on the shoulders of countries which are located at the borders of the central Mediterranean route. This pressure not only has an influence on the capacity of how to manage the EU common borders and respond to the humanitarian crisis, but is also resulting in an erosion of solidarity and cohesion within the most affected Member States. An example of this is the recent defamation campaign in Italy against NGOs operating search and rescue activities, accusing them of acting in complicity with human traffickers.

SOLIDAR welcomes the Commission’s decision to launch infringement procedures against Member States not fulfilling their legal obligations and not willing to show solidarity both to the people in need and to other Member States. We call on Member States to speed up the implementation of the relocation scheme which is one of the available solutions to alleviate the pressure on Italy and Greece. In addition, SOLIDAR stresses that the following actions are urgently needed to implement a European Agenda on Migration fully based on human rights, solidarity and responsibility sharing:

  • Safe and legal channels to the EU as well as an EU humanitarian visa scheme should be created;
  • Migrants should not be sent back to countries where they risk ill-treatment and torture, as collective expulsion and push backs are prohibited under international law;
  • As stated in Agenda 2030, development aid has the universal and transformative goal of eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities and promoting human rights. Development aid should not be used as bargaining chip in exchange for restrictive emigration policies in third countries.

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