European Commission Proposal on A European Agenda on Migration

The European Resettlement Network (ERN) welcomes the EU Agenda on Migration launched on 13 May 2015, which prioritizes saving lives and can be considered as a first step towards putting in place a comprehensive European approach to the asylum and migration challenges faced.    

Concerning resettlement specifically, the EU Agenda proposes an EU-wide resettlement scheme.  This is a clear and important message of solidarity and responsibility-sharing with first countries of asylum, and helps to provide durable solutions for those most in need of international protection.  The resettlement scheme proposed by the Commission will consist of a single European pledge of 20,000 resettlement places, and will cover all EU Member States, with Associated States also invited to participate.  The distribution scheme will be based on criteria related to GDP, size of population, unemployment rate, as well as past numbers of asylum-seekers and resettled refugees received (annexes).  The EU budget will support this scheme through additional funding of EUR 50 million for 2015-2016.  Currently voluntary, if needed, the Commission is considering proposing a binding approach for this scheme beyond 2016.

In the context of the Resettlement Saves Lives Campaign, Amnesty International, CCME, ECRE, ICMC, IOM and Save Me have, since 2012, advocated for Europe to offer 20,000 resettlement places in Europe per year by 2020.

The ERN is delighted that the European Commission has gone some way towards meeting this call and, along with the SHARE Network, offers its support to the Commission’s proposal.  Concretely, the ERN and the SHARE Network are ready to assist relevant stakeholders in those countries new to resettlement on how to develop well-planned resettlement programmes that correspond with the available resources and partnerships present in that country. In this regard, it is also positive to note that the Migration Agenda acknowledges the importance of well-planned and coordinated reception and integration programmes, which should take account of the social capital that refugees bring, while at the same time addressing any special needs that they might have.  

Resettlement is a partnership activity, as has been illustrated by the experiences of any of those countries who have developed resettlement programmes.  The resources that the ERN has collected and developed remain at the disposal of all interested stakeholders, which we hope prove useful to those countries either establishing a new programme or seeking to further develop their resettlement programme.

Furthermore, there is not one model when it comes to resettlement. However, for each country, tailor-made solutions can be found to ensure that resettlement can be a successful and sustainable activity.  The ERN would be happy to provide its expertise and knowledge to ensure that suitable solutions can be found to receive resettled refugees.

In addition to expanding EU resettlement, the ERN welcomes references in the Agenda to the development of other legal admission channels to come to Europe, such as private sponsorship programmes, humanitarian visas, and family reunification for those in need of international protection.  Responding to the Syrian refugee crisis, several EU countries, such as Germany, have already provided substantial additional protection opportunities.  The ERN looks forward to further supporting Member States that seek to engage in such complementary programmes to resettlement, and to expand credible and safe legal avenues for those in need of international protection.

As a result of conflicts and political insecurity in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, there has been a steady increase in the number of persons in need of international protection, as well as the number of asylum-seekers arriving irregularly to Europe.  Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that 86% of the world’s refugee population is hosted by non-industrialised countries.  Europe therefore has an obligation to play its part in finding durable solutions and protection for those most in need.  Resettlement is a key element to this, and in particular for those refugees who find themselves in protracted displacement situations.  The ERN would therefore encourage EU Member States to support the EC’s initiative and contribute towards offering places towards the EU-wide pledge of 20,000 resettlement places in 2015-2016.  

Main Documents and Resources from the Commission: