BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission made a proposal on Wednesday to automatically distribute asylum-seekers across the EU from member states overwhelmed by arrivals.
Below are the main points of the proposal, which would help ease the burden on frontline countries like Greece and Italy, and require the backing of the majority of the 28 member states as well as the European Parliament.
* Depending on the number of asylum seekers in the European Union, each country would be assigned a “fair share”, based on the size of its population and economy. Should it face arrivals exceeding 1.5 times the fair share, automatic relocation would start to other EU states until it drops again.
Countries already accommodating all of their calculated share of asylum-seekers would not be assigned new applicants.
Direct resettlement of refugees from outside the bloc would be considered in devising the “fair share” number, a bid to promote smaller-scale legal migration and discourage mass inflows via smuggling routes.
Asylum-seekers would be moved to countries hosting fewer people than they are due and the automatic distribution system could be corrected to safeguard protection of unaccompanied minors and the right to family reunification.
* Countries could exempt themselves from relocation for one year at a time if they pay 250,000 euros per refugee they would otherwise need to take in to the country that accommodates the person.
The figure is meant to be “dissuasive” and is very high compared to 6,000 euros for every relocated person as offered by the European Commission last year under an emergency relocation plan that was due to cover 160,000 people.
While any reform would only apply mid- to longer-term, a calculation for Poland, the biggest eastern EU state, shows it would have to pay some 1.6 billion euros for fewer than 7,000 people it was assigned - but never took in - under the 160,000 plan.
By comparison, Poland’s nominal GDP reached 1.8 trillion zlotys (409.83 billion euros) in 2015. In 2014, the latest data available, Poland received nearly 14 billion euros net from the common EU budget.
* Countries exempted from the EU common asylum system - Britain, which will hold a referendum next month on whether to stay in or leave the EU altogether, Ireland and Denmark - will have to decide on their own whether to sign up to the reform.
* To deter the widespread practice that has seen refugees and migrants heading towards wealthier EU states or those with more generous benefits, sanctions would be imposed on people who do not file for asylum in the first EU country they reach, or move elsewhere while their claim is processed.
Asylum-seekers would be entitled to aid only in the country that is designated to consider their application.
* There would be a more robust European Union Agency for Asylum tasked with working out the share of asylum seekers for each EU state and running the relocation mechanism.
More data would be collected and stored in the Eurodac, the EU’s fingerprint database of asylum seekers, to help identification and ease deportations of third-country nationals who got to the bloc irregularly or are not seeking protection.
Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Mark Heinrich