Don’t Want Migrants? Pay for Them Instead

Florian Eder, Politico, May 3, 2016

The European Commission will on Wednesday propose a mandatory relocation system for asylum seekers, and will make it expensive for those EU countries that refuse to take part, according to an internal Commission document seen by POLITICO.

It’s part of a planned shake-up of the bloc’s asylum rules that aims to ease the pressure on the EU countries at the bloc’s external borders. If the proposal becomes law, the EU country in which migrants first set foot would in principle have to process their asylum claims, but that country would no longer be obliged to host all of the migrants it receives.

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The problem for the Commission is that some EU countries refuse to take part in any relocation scheme. Hungary has announced a referendum on the issue and Slovakia is going to court over a similar, one-off relocation scheme agreed upon last September.

The Commission’s answer: You don’t want to take in refugees? Pay for them instead.

Governments will be allowed to opt out of the scheme, if they’re willing to pay the country that takes care of its migrants.

“Member states would be able to choose a different kind of solidarity by contributing financially to the efforts made by other member states, those confronted with the disproportionate situation or those relocating asylum seekers,” the document says.

We’re talking serious amounts of money. “The proposal is meant to contain a financial sanction mechanism,” an EU source familiar with the matter told POLITICO.

Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas on Tuesday refused to comment on a report in the Financial Times that said the fine would be €250,000 per asylum seeker.

The financial penalty is expected to be high, however. The EU source said the fine “should go beyond symbolism and be understood as prohibitive pricing.”

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