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    European countries strive to share out 40,000 asylum seekers

    On Monday, European countries were trying to agree on how to share out responsibility for 40,000 asylum seekers, with a view to relieving Greece and Italy, currently under immense migration pressure. However there is still a lack of consensus which is needed to secure agreement. When 40,000 asylum places need to be found between now and the end of July, to comply with the mandate agreed in June by European leaders, this discord was deemed unacceptable before the start, at 1:00pm GMT, of the meeting of European interior ministers. Assurances secured up to now have not exceeded 30,000 asylum places, several European sources say. The so-called prescribed “resettlement” mechanism should only be temporary, for two years, and it only affects exiles and migrants arriving at European borders who fall into a single category: asylum seekers eligible for refugee status, who are in the main Syrians and Eritreans.

    An agreement had already been reached at the beginning of July on the second phase of this plan, concerning the assimilation of 20,000 individuals already eligible for refugee status, but currently living outside of the EU. Current assurances given exceeded expectations, with 22,500 places secured, according to one European source.

    States were against the plan, devised by the European Commission, from the outset. In the end, states agreed that the share out should not be subject to mandatory quotas but completed on a voluntary basis. As a result, in implementing the resettlement plan, several states are baulking at opening their borders in this way, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. Spain, at the forefront of these efforts, is also very reluctant to do so.

    Moreover, Greece and Italy, must formally commit to identifying and recording illegal migrants arriving within their borders, to allow tracking and deportation of those not eligible for asylum.

    Arrivals must be screened in holding areas, so-called “hot spots”, with the cooperation of the European border surveillance agency known as Frontex, of the European Asylum Support Office, and of Interpol. 

    Lars Andersen (Source: Belga)