The €50m (£36m) scheme is aimed at redistributing refugees across the continent, using criteria including GDP, population size, unemployment rates and past numbers of asylum seekers and resettled refugees. This would mean Germany taking the most migrants (18.4 per cent) followed by France (14.2 per cent) and Italy (11.8 per cent) – assuming no involvement by the UK, Ireland and Denmark. It is a part of a broad package of migrant policies unveiled which also includes the resettlement of 20,000 refugees from outside the EU.
Most of the measures, including the resettlement quotas, will be debated on 16 June by EU justice and home affairs ministers meeting in Luxembourg. Given the extent of opposition, including from Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia, the package is likely to see significant concessions. Other elements of the EU plan include measures to reduce incentives for irregular migration. The assets and resources to the EU’s Frontex border agency missions involved in search and rescue work would be tripled in 2015 and 2016 to €89m.
Another scheme involves setting up a pilot asylum screening centre in Niger by the end of the year that would help provide local protection and work out resettlement opportunities for those in need.
The 18-page plan also includes measures to attract more highly skilled legal migrants through its so-called Blue Card scheme. “With an ageing population, the EU is mainly facing skilled shortages on the labour market, particularly in sectors such as science, technology and engineering,” the Commission proposal says.
The package will be discussed by EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday. They are also expected to approve a planned naval mission off the coast of Libya.