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Relocation on the agenda

25 September 2013

Refugee children at a reception centre in Romania. Photo: UNHCR/B. Szandelszky

To relocate asylum seekers from one EU Member State to another is a tangible form of solidarity and can provide relief in situations of migratory pressure. This September, the first ever Relocation Forum took place in Brussels organised by the European Commission, with the participation of Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. Among the participants were EU Member States, the European Asylum Support Office, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration.

In her speech at the event, Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström pointed out that relocation is an important gesture of solidarity, especially in light of the present refugee crisis in Syria, and that more EU States should take part:

"The instrument of relocation could give a very good opportunity for those Members States who have few asylum seekers to take more responsibility in our common system. It is also an opportunity to gradually build up a fully functioning reception system. Some of the Member States today are truly in need of help, and others can therefore make an important contribution by alleviating others", Malmström said.

Some EU Member States are against relocation as a concept, as they view it as a pull-factor for refugees. In her speech at the Relocation Forum, Commissioner Malmström pointed out that such fears are unsubstantiated.

"We have no desire to create pull factors and no desire for people to undertake unnecessarily hazardous journeys across the Sahara and the Mediterranean. But we should not refuse to show solidarity to another Member State because we decide that relocation creates a pull factor when we have no evidence to substantiate that claim", Malmström said in her speech.

She went on to point out that relocation of refugees and beneficiaries of international protection is not an alternative to improving the quality of Member States' own asylum systems.

"Relocation is not an alternative to getting your house in order. It is, however, a true expression of solidarity and I do hope that many Member States can take part", Malmström said.


Read Commissioner Malmström's full speech here. Earlier this year, the EU decided to put a Common European Asylum System in place after years of negotiations.