The European Commission has announced details of its controversial plan to relocate tens of thousands of migrants who have reached southern Europe. Austria was asked to open its doors to over 1,600 refugees from Africa and the Middle East.
The scheme will see as many as 40,000 migrants already amassed in Greece and Italy temporarily relocated across Europe in an unprecedented emergency measure in order to relieve the pressure on those two countries.
The idea of using quotas to resettle those who have made it to Europe has caused controversy in some EU states – with France, Spain, Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia voicing strong opposition. Austria, along with Sweden, Germany and Italy, is in favour.
Under the mandatory quota system all 28 EU countries will be allocated a specific number of asylum seekers currently in Italy and Greece – mainly from Syria and Eritrea. Austria would be asked to take in 3.03 percent, or a total of 1,213 people.
Countries which agree to take in the asylum seekers will be offered €6,000 per person, with the greatest number to be moved to Germany.
EU member states have been allocated a set number of asylum seekers based on their population size, economic growth and former engagement with asylum seekers.
It is still unclear whether the majority of member states will vote to adopt the proposal.
Only refugees who have been identified as “clearly needing international protection” will be included in the quota.
In addition the commission has made a recommendation on the resettlement of refugees (i.e. a fast tracked asylum process) directly from conflict areas, who have been identified by the UN as needing protection.
This would include 20,000 people over the next two years and will be funded by €50 million from the Commission.
Austria would be asked to grant asylum to 444 people under such a resettlement agreement.
The plan comes after the recent deaths of thousands of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean.
“Everyone who needs sanctuary should find it in Europe,” said Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the commission. “But those who have no justified claim should be quickly identified and returned to their home country,” he added.