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26/09/2016

EU bonus payments for countries taking in refugees mooted

Justice & Home Affairs

EU bonus payments for countries taking in refugees mooted

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[Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres/Flickr]

German centre-right MEP Elmar Brok has proposed a bonus system for individual member states, paid for by the EU budget, for countries taking in large numbers of asylum seekers. EurActiv’s partner Tagesspiegel reports.

Brok, chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and a Christian Democrat said, “As an ultima ratio, one could consider allocating more money from EU Structural Funds to those member states who react accordingly to the refugee situation.”

But first, he said, it remains to be seen whether plans for a permanent solidarity mechanism – which the European Commission intends to submit soon – will lead to a fairer distribution of asylum seekers.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hopes to outline details of the planned regulation on 9 September during his “State of the Union” address. The speech is planned to take place just days before a special conference on 14 September when EU justice and internal affairs ministers will meet to discuss the issue.

The Commission’s proposal to introduce fixed quotas on accepting refugees failed at an EU summit in June. Numerous countries from Eastern Europe, as well as the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland refused to agree to a binding regulation.

Instead, 32,000 refugees, who originally set foot in Europe in Italy and Greece, will be redistributed on a voluntary basis to other member states starting in October.

European Commission working on a permanent crisis mechanism

Aside from this pilot project, the European Commission is planning a permanent mechanism for the distribution of refugees in the EU, to be activated in emergencies.

Many in Brussels expect the measure will come with binding quotas, including for those member states which have been lagging behind on taking in refugees. Reports indicated that refugee distribution would no longer be decided among the member states but, instead, would involve the European Parliament at the community level in Brussels.

>> Read: Germany suspends Dublin agreement for Syrian refugees

Brok seems convinced that the German government has warmed up to regulation of this kind.

And Germany is not the only one pushing for a binding quota system within the EU. It is accompanied by Italy and Austria, which are working towards similar legislation.

Meanwhile, Austrian politicians are also discussing whether member states not doing their share could be denied funds from the EU budget.

One option would be to “reduce financial support when solidarity and responsibility are not assumed”, Austrian Internal Affairs Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told ZDF Morgenmagazin on Monday (31 August).