The French EU presidency plans to announce figures next week on the number of asylum seekers who will be relocated under a so-called solidarity plan, while continuing to seek commitments from other states members.
“I hope we can make a clear announcement by next week,” Guylène Sandjo, a presidential official, said Tuesday, June 28.
Considered a major step forward, the Solidarity Plan is a political statement that aims to get other EU states to take migrants and asylum seekers from places of first arrival, such as Greece, Italy and Cyprus.
Known as relocation, the issue of how to distribute arriving asylum seekers between non-frontline EU states has baffled European lawmakers for years.
Sandjo won’t go into details when pressed, noting only that they are closing in on the 10,000 target informally set by the presidency.
“We are still talking with most member states to get commitments,” she said. The French presidency is coming to an end and will be replaced by the Czech EU presidency in July.
Earlier this month, EUobserver reported that a handful of member states had pledged around 7,000 relocation places.
An EU diplomat said Germany had pledged 3,500, France 3,000 and Portugal and Ireland 350 each.
It is not immediately known whether others have come forward since.
Notis Mitarachi, Greece’s migration minister, suggested on Monday that the figure had not changed.
“The full solidarity offer on the table after the council meeting is around 7,000 relocations. The aspiration is to take the number to 10,000,” he told EU lawmakers in the Civil Liberties Committee. .
But Mitarachi said Greece, along with Cyprus, Italy, Malta and Spain, collectively expect 150,000 arrivals for this year.
“So we are asking the European Union for these five countries to detain 140,000 people out of 150,000 this year alone,” he said.
Mitarachi said the French solidarity target on relocations should be 120,000, not 10,000.
The trend of increasing arrivals and asylum seekers is also expected to increase.
Last year alone, some 650,000 asylum applications were lodged in the EU, an increase of around a third compared to 2020.
“Earlier this year, we had the highest number of monthly applications since the so-called refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016,” said Nina Gregori, who heads the European Union Agency for Asylum ( EUAA) based in Malta.
Gregori said the spike was mostly led by the Belarusian regime, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine.
Syrians and Afghans were the two largest groups with 117,000 and 102,000 applications respectively, followed by 30,000 Iraqis and 25,000 Pakistani and Turkish nationals.
Similar statements were made earlier this month by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
He noted that more than 100 million people are currently displaced globally, the highest in a decade.