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EU offers states cash to take in migrants

July 24, 2018

The EU is hoping it can persuade member states to volunteer setting up reception centers for migrants from Mediterranean rescue boats with one decisive argument: Money.

Proactiva Open Arms members carry Josepha, the woman who was rescued last Tuesday, on board NGO Proactiva Open Arms rescue boat
Image: Reuters/J. Medina

The European Commission on Tuesday proposed introducing financial incentives to member states to take in migrants from Mediterranean rescue boats. 

In two concept papers, the EU's executive arm said it wanted to offer "full financial support" to any member state volunteering to set up controlled centers to streamline the process of identifying people in need of international protection and those with no right to stay the EU.

Read more: How costly would inner-European border controls be?

Volunteer countries would receive €6,000 ($7,000) for every asylum seeker they admit from those "controlled centers" and the EU budget would also cover the transfer costs, estimated to be €500.

EU leaders last month began discussing the idea of controlled centers to process migrants arriving in Europe, as well as disembarkation platforms in northern Africa, in an attempt to discourage migrants from boarding EU-bound smuggler boats.

Italy's government, which was elected following a campaign that was harsh on migration, agreed on Monday to continue accepting migrants rescued at sea, at least until the EU comes up with a solution that shares the responsibility.

"We are ready to support member states and third countries in better cooperating on disembarkation of those rescued at sea," said EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos. "But for this to work immediately on the ground, we need to be united — not just now, but also in the long run."

Read more: EU: Africa refugee centers won't be like Guantanamo Bay

Migrant centers could open soon

The commission has proposed that controlled migrant centers could be trialled as soon as possible in member states where migrants are brought ashore.

Read more: Where do EU countries stand on migration?

EU ambassadors are due to discuss the disembarkation centers on Wednesday, but there has been no sign that any of the proposed countries will agree to them as yet.

Eastern member states including Poland and Hungary have refused to adhere to an EU migrant agreement struck in 2015, at the height of the migration crisis, which was meant to see EU member states take in asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

Under the 2015 Dublin Regulation, the member state an asylum seeker enters the EU in is also the state they must be processed in. Italy is the busiest gateway for migrants arriving in Europe via the Mediterranean, which has resulted in it taking the brunt of asylum seekers.

law/rt (AFP, AP, dpa)