Today marks another shameful day in EU policy-making and protection of human rights. As EU policymakers hammered another nail in the coffin for the right to asylum, there was, however, one reprieve:  the Resettlement Framework.

Under the rapporteurship of Left MEP Malin Björk (Vänsterpartiet, Sweden), the Left was able to maintain the humanitarian core of resettlement upholding the UNHCR’s mandate and resisting efforts from the Commission and Council to recast resettlement as a tool for migration management.

“I am proud that we finally will see the EU resettlement framework adopted. It is the only EU law focusing on creating safe and legal pathways for refugees. Now we need to see that EU member states step up their resettlement places and ensure better protection for the most vulnerable refugees,” said Björk.

Key elements of the agreement include:

  • Resettlement will remain the “primary type of admission” and “shall constitute not less than approximately 60% of the total number of the persons to be admitted”. There is also a financial incentive for member states to resettle refugees.
  • UNHCR global resettlement needs will be the basis to determine which regions will be included in the scheme, not the Commission’s original proposal to link with readmission targets.
  • Resettlement will remain voluntary for member states and while there is no target number, the stated aim of the regulation is to increasing the overall number of available places for resettlement and humanitarian admission”;
  • Humanitarian admission could be used to bring family members that would not be eligible under the Family Reunification Directive.
  • Limited number of exclusion grounds.

The Framework was first proposed by the Commission in 2016. However, it has been blocked by member states since 2018. A deal was finally reached in December 2022. Taken together with the Pact on Migration and Asylum files, it is the only proposal that opens up any legal pathway into the EU for refugees.

Refugee resettlement provides a durable solution for refugees who are outside of the EU, in particularly vulnerable situations, and who do not have adequate support in their host countries.

Today 76% of the world’s refugees live in low and middle-income countries, and 70% live in countries neighbouring those they had to flee. With this agreement, a safe and legal pathway is finally enshrined in EU law.

This law should open the possibility for thousands of extremely vulnerable refugees to come to the EU in safety and dignity. Resettlement remains a complementary pathway. It should never replace the right of persons to seek asylum on EU’s territory and should not be made conditional on cooperation in migration management.

This agreement, as well as the entirety of the EU’s Pact on Migration and Asylum will be voted in Parliament’s April plenary session (tbc).

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