12 Establishing a crisis relocation
mechanism for individuals in need of international protection
||Legally and politically important|
|Committee's decision||Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee
|Document details||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
|Legal base||Article 78(2)(e) TFEU; ordinary legislative procedure; QMV
|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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
See the Luxembourg Presidency report - Managing migration flows,
published on 16 December 2015. Back