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European Commission makes progress on Agenda on Migration

27/05/2015

Two weeks after the European Commission presented its European Agenda on Migration, the Commission is today presenting the first initiatives of its comprehensive approach to improving the management of migration in all its aspects.

Following the terrible loss of life in the Mediterranean last month, leaders made a firm commitment to solidarity amongst Member States to address the common migratory challenges Europe faces. With today's proposals, the Commission is turning words into action and setting out the immediate response to the emergency situation we currently face in the Mediterranean.

Today, the European Commission is presenting six different and concrete measures to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean:

  • Relocation: Emergency response mechanism to assist Italy and Greece: The European Commission is triggering the emergency response under Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which has never been activated in the past, to assist Italy and Greece. An emergency relocation scheme will apply to asylum seekers in need of international protection that arrive in either Italy or Greece after the mechanism is launched. Based on an EU-wide recognition rate of more than 75% this applies, for the moment, to Syrian and Eritrean nationals. A total of 40 000 should be relocated from Italy and Greece to other EU Member States based on a distribution key over the next 2 years – corresponding to approximately 40% of the total number of Eritrean and Syrian nationals who have entered these countries in 2014. The Commission is ready to do the same if other Member States – notably Malta – also face a sudden influx of migrants.
  • Resettlement: The Commission has adopted a Recommendation asking Member States to resettle 20 000 people from outside the EU,in clear need of international protection as identified by the UNHCR, over 2 years, based on a distribution key. Member States who participate in the scheme will be entitled to financial support, with the EU making €50 million available in 2015-16.
  • An EU Action plan against migrant smuggling: The Plan for 2015-2020 sets out concrete actions to prevent and clamp down on migrant smuggling. Actions include setting up a list of suspicious vessels; enhancing cooperation and exchange of information with financial institutions; and cooperating with internet service providers and social media to ensure internet content used by smugglers to advertise their activities is swiftly detected and removed.
  • Guidelines on Fingerprinting: For the EU's common asylum system to work effectively, migrants need to be systematically fingerprinted upon arrival. The Commission has published guidelines for Member States setting out a best practices approach for fingerprinting newly arrived applicants for international protection.
  • A public consultation on the future of the Blue Card Directive: The Commission wants to improve the existing EU Blue Card scheme, which aims to make it easier for highly skilled people to come and work in the EU but is currently scarcely used. The public consultation invites stakeholders (migrants, employers, governmental organisations, trade unions, NGOs, employment agencies, etc.) to share their views on the EU Blue Card and how it can be improved.
  • The Commission also takes note of a new Operational Plan for Operation Triton: The new Operational Plan for the reinforced Joint Operation Triton sets out the new number of assets: 10 maritime, 33 land and 8 air assets, and 121 human resources. The Operational Plan also extends the geographical area of Triton southwards to the borders of the Maltese search and rescue zone to cover the area of the former Italian Mare Nostrum operation.

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