“On the one-year anniversary of the EU plan to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, the first countries of arrival, the scheme must be judged a farce, ” Human Rights Watch Advocacy Director Philippe Dam writes in his review about the failure of the European Commission sponsored Relocation scheme.
In this well-researched article Relocation Farce Brings Shame on Europe, Dam writes among others:
First, the EU cut the number by a third. Then, in the year since the plan was approved, it moved just 5,821 people to other member states.
While the relocation requirement is legally binding on EU member states, some countries are flouting EU decision-making rules and shirking their responsibilities.
Some have contributed fairly but others, it would seem, are either actively bucking the programme or passively offering little or nothing in the hope the issue will to go away or that the asylum seekers will end up elsewhere.
Despite an European Commission press statement touting “significant progress” in relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, prime minister Robert Fico of Slovakia said just a few days ago that the idea of migration quotas was “politically finished”.
Indeed, a handful of EU states have aggressively attacked the relocation scheme and the very concept of sharing responsibility.
Slovakia and Hungary filed a legal action against the relocation scheme with the EU Court of Justice.
Denmark and the UK opted out, Sweden achieved a one-year delay.
Austria, Hungary and Poland have flatly refused to take anyone. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia have hardly done better, each taking a dozen or fewer people.
As for relocating asylum seekers, a disappointingly small group of countries has led by example.
France has relocated the largest number – 1,987 – over a third of the total.
Finland, Portugal, the Netherlands and even Malta, Cyprus, and Luxembourg, the EU’s smallest countries, have made progress toward fulfilling their commitments.
Germany, on the other hand, hailed a year ago for welcoming refugees, has been stalling for months. There have been recent positive signs, with over 150 people relocated in just a few weeks.
Belgium and Spain, also at the back of the pack, should follow suit.
While a show of solidarity from EU countries is perhaps more important than ever, the crucial goal of the relocation plan is to ensure that asylum seekers are not warehoused in poor conditions and backlogged asylum systems.
Given the human-made tragedy for the over 60,000 asylum seekers stranded in Greece, by that measure too the plan has failed.
Full article in Human Rights Watch under the title Relocation Farce brings shame on Europe.