Documents considered by the Committee on 6 January 2016 - European Scrutiny Contents


12   Establishing a crisis relocation mechanism for individuals in need of international protection

Committee's assessment Legally and politically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee
Document detailsProposal for a Regulation establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person
Legal baseArticle 78(2)(e) TFEU; ordinary legislative procedure; QMV
DepartmentHome Office
Document Numbers(37088), 11843/15 + ADD 1, COM(15) 450

Summary and Committee's conclusions

12.1  Last September, the Council adopted two Decisions providing for the relocation from Greece and Italy of up to 160,000 individuals in clear need of international protection through a mixture of voluntary commitments and mandatory quotas. The Decisions entail a temporary derogation from the rules contained in the Dublin III Regulation which establish a hierarchy of criteria for identifying a single Member State responsible for examining a claim for international protection.

12.2  The proposed Regulation put forward by the Commission would obviate the need for a succession of temporary measures derogating from the Dublin rules. It would amend the Dublin III Regulation to establish a permanent crisis relocation mechanism which could be activated by the Commission at times of extreme migratory pressures "characterised by a large and disproportionate inflow of third country nationals or stateless persons" which place "significant demands" on the receiving Member State's asylum system. The mechanism would operate on the basis of a mandatory distribution key which takes into account each Member State's population size, GDP, unemployment rate, and the average number of asylum applications made during the preceding five year period.

12.3  The UK participates fully in the Dublin III Regulation. The proposal to amend it is subject to the UK's Title V (justice and home affairs) opt-in. Under the UK's Title V Protocol, the UK is at risk of being ejected from a measure in which it participates if it decides not to opt into a subsequent amending measure.

12.4  We agreed with the Government's analysis that the risk of ejection from the Dublin III Regulation did not appear to be significant, but considered that it remained an important factor in weighing the case for and against UK participation. Accordingly, we recommended that the Government's opt-in decision should be debated and that the debate should take place on the floor of the House to reflect the "particularly strong Parliamentary interest" in the Government's opt-in decision.[90] We also asked the Government to provide regular updates on the progress of negotiations.

12.5  In his latest letter, the Immigration Minister (James Brokenshire) confirms that the Government has decided not to opt into the proposed amending Regulation.

12.6  The opt-in debate took place on the floor of the House on 14 December, six days after the expiry of the three month deadline for notifying the Government's opt-in decision. The purpose of opt-in debates is to enable Parliament to inform and influence the Government's opt-in decision before the expiry of the UK's three month opt-in deadline. All the Government's opt-in decisions on relocation have been taken without first consulting Parliament. Scheduling an opt-in debate after the Government has reached an opt-in decision makes a mockery of the Government's commitment to "enhanced scrutiny" of its opt-in decisions and to full transparency and accountability to Parliament. The Minister offers no apology, and provides no reasons for, the late scheduling of the opt-in debate. We suggest that he takes the opportunity to do both in his next update.

12.7  There can be no doubt that EU measures on relocation have been a source of division and acrimony across the European Union and that progress in implementing the commitments already agreed has been pitifully slow. A recent report published by the Luxembourg Presidency indicates that, by 16 December 2015, only 184 individuals out of a possible total of 160,000 had been relocated from frontline Member States.[91] Delays in implementing commitments made on relocation and on resettlement are likely to increase pressure for root and branch reform of the existing Dublin rules which, in the vast majority of cases, attribute responsibility for registering asylum seekers and processing their claims to frontline Member States. In a joint address to the European Parliament on 7 October, the German Chancellor (Angela Merkel) described the Dublin rules as "obsolete". The French President (François Hollande) highlighted the link between the Dublin rules and the proper functioning of the Schengen free movement area, commenting: "Calling into question the free movement of people by returning to internal border controls would be a tragic error. But pretending that Schengen, with its current way of functioning, allows us to face border pressures would be another mistake".

12.8  Whilst the UK's Title V (justice and home affairs) opt-in Protocol has so far enabled the Government to resist the imposition of EU quotas on relocation and on resettlement, the unwillingness or inability of other Member States to implement these policies expeditiously and effectively is very likely to affect the Commission's review of the Dublin rules and the proposals it puts forward to revise them. Given the impact that the review may have on the UK's continuing participation in the Dublin rules, we intend to hold the current proposal amending Regulation under scrutiny. We remind the Minister that we have asked for regular updates on the progress of negotiations which address, in particular, the procedures for activating the proposed crisis relocation mechanism and the funding arrangements.

12.9  We draw this chapter to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee.

Full details of the documents: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person: (37088), 11843/15 + ADD 1, COM(15) 450.

Background

12.10  Our earlier Reports, listed at the end of this chapter, provide further information on the temporary relocation measures adopted by the Council in September, the criteria underpinning the operation of the Dublin III Regulation, and the forms of international protection available under EU law. They also explain when the proposed permanent crisis relocation mechanism would apply, who would be eligible for relocation, and how the quotas for relocation would be calculated.

12.11  As well as recommending an opt-in debate, we have sought further information on the operation of the proposed crisis relocation mechanism. In particular, we asked the Minister to provide regular updates on the progress of negotiations and to include information on the procedures for activating the mechanism and how it will be funded.

The Minister's letter of 14 December 2015

12.12  The Minister confirms that the Government has decided not to opt into the proposed amending Regulation. He reiterates the Government's opposition to relocation, adding:

"You will be aware that the UK did not opt in to the two temporary relocation measures which were agreed over the summer. So far implementation of these has been extremely slow with only around 160 people relocated from Italy and Greece so far. The legislation has proven to be rushed and ill-conceived and Member States continue to argue over the detail. Negotiations on a permanent mechanism have also proved long and difficult and it is unlikely consensus will be reached on this in the near future. In my opinion, this reinforces the view that relocation is the wrong response to the crisis and that the time and effort devoted to negotiating these measures would have been far better spent on implementing practical solutions to secure the external border and provide sustainable protection in the region, a position which the UK has been calling for since the beginning of the crisis."

12.13  He does not expect the proposal to be adopted "in the near future, given the divisiveness of relocation measures amongst Member States".

Previous Committee Reports

Ninth Report HC 342-ix (2015-16), chapter 3 (18 November 2015) and Fifth Report HC 342-v (2015-16), chapter 1, chapter 2 and chapter 3 (14 October 2015). The following Reports on the Commission's temporary relocation proposals are also relevant: Second Report HC 342-ii (2015-16), chapter 3 (21 July 2015) and Third Report HC 342-iii (2015-16), chapter 8 (9 September 2015).


90   In line with undertakings given by the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) to Parliament in January 2011, opt-in decisions which attract "particularly strong Parliamentary interest" should be debated on the floor of the House so that Members' views are able to inform and influence the Government's final opt-in decision. Back

91   See the Luxembourg Presidency report - Managing migration flows, published on 16 December 2015. Back


 
previous page contents next page


© Parliamentary copyright 2016
Prepared 15 January 2016