The EU Relocation Programme and IOM
Relocation is the transfer of asylum seekers who are in clear need of international protection from one EU Member State to another Member State where their asylum application will be examined once the relocation has taken place. The EU relocation scheme is an expression of the principle of solidarity that lies at the heart of the European project.
EU Member States agreed to relocate asylum seekers from Member States experiencing high migratory pressure. 66,400 places have been allocated for relocation from Greece and 39,600 from Italy. Following an amendment of the Council Decision, the remaining 54,000 places have been reallocated from relocation to the admission of refugees from Turkey.
Eligibility for the relocation scheme is limited to applicants who are in clear need of international protection and are a national or stateless resident of those countries for which the EU-wide average recognition rate is more than 75 percent. The majority of beneficiaries were so far from Syria with Eritreans and Iraqis as the second and third largest groups.
Eligible asylum seekers in Greece and Italy can apply for the relocation programme. When Member States of Relocation are ready to receive groups, a list of potential beneficiaries is shared with them which they have to approve.
Applicants cannot choose which country they are relocated to, but through a matching process basic criteria such as language skills or demonstrated family, cultural or social ties are taken into account in order to decide which Member State beneficiaries should be relocated to.
Once IOM receives the final list with beneficiaries that have been selected for relocation and who have accepted the decision, it starts implementing important pre-departure activities to ensure the beneficiaries are well informed about the process and can travel in safety and dignity.
A pre-departure health assessment and a fit-to-travel check before departure, ensures that the beneficiaries’ health needs are assessed, relevant information is shared with Member State of Relocation, public health concerns are addressed and everyone can travel in safety and dignity.
IOM also provides pre-departure orientation sessions, sharing key information about the Member State of Relocation and relocation. This is a valuable opportunity to give basic information on the country they will be relocated to, manage expectations and inform the beneficiaries of initial post arrival reception and early integration assistance.
Regarding the journey itself, IOM manages the movements, conducts a pre-departure embarkation session during which the beneficiaries are informed about the practical details of the travel, provides medical or operational escorts on the flight if necessary, supports groups in transit where needed and welcomes and receives the beneficiaries upon arrival at the airport.
As of 13 January 2017, well into the second year since the first movements, only 10,200 persons -- of the 106,000 places that EU member states have committed to -- have been relocated from Greece and Italy. There is a long way to go, and time is of the essence. You can find more information on the scheme's progress in this press release and in the relocation tab of IOM's Migration Flows Europe page here.
In May 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal for a permanent relocation mechanism. If adopted, this ‘fairness mechanism’ would automatically establish when a country is handling a disproportionate number of asylum applications based on the country's size and wealth and all further applications for asylum in that country would be redistributed across the EU.
Member States will also have the option to temporarily not take part in the reallocation and in this case will have to make a ‘solidarity contribution’ of EUR 250,000 for each applicant for whom they would have been responsible, to the Member State that receives the person.
Thousands of unaccompanied children that have arrived in Greece and Italy are eligible for relocation. Specialized IOM staff conduct best interest assessments together with national legal guardianship authorities and EU Member States of Relocation, taking into account the views and opinions of the child.
IOM ensures that unaccompanied migrant children receive child specific and child friendly information on the Member State of Relocation and supports them in view of their relocation.
Only a few Member States of Relocation have made places available for unaccompanied children and many more places are needed. As of 31 December 2016, only Belgium (6), Finland (78), Germany (4), Ireland (13), Luxembourg (14), the Netherlands (18), Norway (4) Portugal (2), Spain (24) and Switzerland (2). In addition, 1 seperated minor travelled from Italy to the Netherlands. unaccompanied migrant children were relocated from Greece to
- IOM’s Migration Flows Europe portal has a tab on relocation, giving a graphic overview of the progress and maintaining an updated table of beneficiaries per country. You can find it here.
- For more information on the activities carried out by IOM Greece, please refer to their homepage.
- IOM regularly publishes press releases and articles on significant relocation movements, milestones and policy:
- IOM Commentary: EU Relocation: Where Europe Needs a Surge (23-09-2016)
- The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) offers general information as well as a Q&A and videos on relocation on their homepage.
- The two Decisions on relocation adopted by the Council of the EU on 14 September (40,000 persons) and 22 September 2015 (120,000 persons) respectively.
- A 2-page on relocationwith an overview of the activities as well as relevant statistics and graphics
- Video Portraits of EU Relocation produced by the European Commission