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EU’s Dublin proposals fail to learn from the mistakes of the past

4 May 2016

EU’s Dublin proposals fail to learn from the mistakes of the past

The European Commission is right to maintain the basic Dublin principles but it must stop pushing the already failing relocation system, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists home affairs spokesman, said today.

The European Commission is right to maintain the basic Dublin principles but it must stop pushing the already failing relocation system, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists home affairs spokesman, said today.

The Commission has chosen not to move forward with a centralised system for application and distribution of refugee claimants, instead keeping the basic existing Dublin principles of the first country reached is where an application will be lodged. However, it has proposed as part of the Dublin proposal a relocation system that would be triggered if a country exceeds 150 percent of a level calculated for each country based on their population and GDP. Countries that do not intend to take refugees under the scheme would be made to pay a penalty of 250,000 Euros per person.

The proposal also sees the withdrawal of the European Commission’s relocation scheme proposals in lieu of today’s announcement. Mr Kirkhope was the European Parliament’s rapporteur (lead MEP) on the relocation proposal.

Mr Kirkhope said that the proposal needs a lot of work:

“Of the two options on the table, this proposal was clearly the only option with a chance of working. It is only right that the basic principle remains valid, that refugees seek asylum in the first safe country. This rightly mirrors long established international asylum principles.

“I hope that EU governments realise that Dublin principles work, but have been badly implemented. Germany unilaterally suspended the Dublin principle last summer, and ever since the EU has been desperately trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen again.

“It is frustrating that the European Commission has put into question whether the UK will be able participate in the Dublin proposal, by pairing together Dublin and Relocation in one instrument. The UK has made it quite clear that it will not be part of a compulsory relocation scheme.

“I welcome the withdrawal of the relocation proposal. As rapporteur I have always been honest about my very real concerns regarding it. Relocation does not work. Governments and MEPs have publically acknowledged this. The commission needs to realise there is no point flogging a dead horse. Instead it should look at the other ways countries can contribute to the crisis; through the sharing of assets, expertise, money, and voluntary resettlement.

“Offering countries the chance to bypass relocation by paying a fee is one that should be considered, but it should not be considered a punishment or an unrealistic amount. The commission needs to acknowledge the significant contributions the UK and other Member States makes through direct resettlement scheme, and the significant aid contribution that the UK government has given to support the vulnerable people in refugee camps.

“I am hopeful that a solution can be found. The UK is not alone in its concerns over relocation. It makes little sense to continue pushing a system which has already proven to be a failure. Out of the 160, 000 refugees who were eligible for relocation under the scheme, only 1,145 refugees have been relocated to other EU countries.

“This is only the initial proposal, and I am hopeful that during negotiations common sense will prevail.”

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