Yesterday the European Parliament held a Plenary session on a voluntary and permanent intra-EU relocation of international protection beneficiaries, generally seen as tool of solidarity with those Member States who are considered to be facing 'particular pressures'. And it seems that the overall conclusion seems to be that the EUREMA initiative "was a step in the right direction", that is should be continued and that more efforts are needed to further strengthen it.
We've written several posts on this issue, not only because it is of direct interest to EASO but also because it is (obviously) of immense interest to Malta. By 'Malta' we don't only mean the Maltese Government but also the vast majority of persons living here, for whom solidarity and intra-EU relocation represent one of the most effective ways of dealing with 'Malta's problems with the illegal immigrants' (probably immediately after Malta's terrible and infamous detention policy).
We'll be honest and admit that we haven't watched the full session, so aren't able to comment on exactly what was said. But we do have a few preliminary comments on what we've seen so far.
We think that this entire EUREMA discussion has been extremely disappointing, at least from our perspective as NGOs directly involved in both EUREMA initiatives. As our readers know, some time ago a number of Maltese refugee-supporting NGOs (including us) had written to both EASO and the Commission requesting to be involved in the consultation and review partly implemented by EASO.
We asked this because we had, and still have, very hands-on comments on the way EUREMA worked, its procedures, results, human impact, policy implications, etc.
Without going into too many details, the conclusion is that although our request was formally accepted, we were never spoken to nor asked to present written submissions. All our attempts to get involved in the discussion were futile.
EASO presented its own fact-finding report, the Commission reached its conclusions and at no stage did anyone think it appropriate to talk to any of the NGOs who, for years, have been working with refugees in Malta and who have very clear views on solidarity and EUREMA as policies and as processes.
We're terribly disappointed, annoyed and frustrated. This is just not the way things should work, and now we're wondering whether NGOs will be given the opportunity to speak, or possibly whisper, at the 'Annual Relocation Forum' yesterday announced by Commissioner Malmstrom.
And let's not even start commenting on the proposal to give a cash handout of €6,000 per relocated refugee to the accepting Member State. Seriously? When NGOs are barely surviving to make ends meet, when desperately needed NGO-provided services (legal aid, psycho-social support, material assistance, integration support, etc.) are being cut down because many of us simply cannot survive?
Please, give us a break.