Refugees International (RI) welcomes this week’s decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which reaffirms an EU scheme for a fairer distribution of asylum-seekers among EU member states. The EU court’s ruling is an important reminder to EU member states of the need for solidarity and responsibility sharing when it comes to the arrival of people in need of international protection.
The ruling rejected the request by Hungary and Slovakia to annul the decision that established it in September 2015 for a period of two years. Faced with the large numbers of asylum-seekers and migrants on Greece and Italy’s shores in 2015, the European Union sought to alleviate some of the pressure on those frontline countries by obliging other governments to accept a limited number of asylum-seekers and assess their asylum claims on their territory.
While the scheme aimed for the relocation of a total of 160,000 asylum-seekers, the results thus far have been disappointing: as of September 1st, 2017, only 19,243 people had been relocated from Greece and 8,402 had been relocated from Italy. These numbers are all the more concerning given the approaching end of the scheme on September 26 of this year.
At a time when EU governments are focusing their efforts on keeping asylum-seekers out of Europe, today’s ruling sends a powerful message for them to show solidarity and accept people seeking safety. EU governments should significantly increase their pledges and reduce the large gap between the objectives they laid out in 2015, and the disappointing results today. EU governments should also demonstrate greater solidarity with countries in the Middle East and Africa, which are hosting far more people in need of international protection and with far fewer means by resettling refugees currently in those countries.
Top photo: Syrian asylum-seekers in Greece.