E.U. Proposes Quota System to Address Migration Crisis

Publicado originalmente em 13 de maio de 2015

BRUSSELS — The European Union authorities responded to the Continent’s growing migration crisis with proposals on Wednesday aimed at easing the burden for the countries on the Mediterranean that have borne the brunt of rescue operations.

A proposed quota system, which would oblige most European Union member states to take in more migrants, at least temporarily, generated sharp opposition from Britain, Ireland, Denmark and the Czech Republic even before it was formally put forward.

The contentious nature of the debate amounts to a crucial test of the European Union’s commitment to address a serious human rights issue, even as some of its members resist efforts to centralize policies that they say could backfire.

Known as the European Agenda on Migration, the quota system would primarily help Greece, Italy and Malta, which are among the main arrival points for the large number of migrants making the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea. An estimated 1,800 people have died so far this year in such journeys, which are often made in flimsy boats that are vulnerable to capsizing or catching fire.

A separate plan, to be discussed on Monday by European Union foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels, will address the use of military force aimed at preventing trafficking by destroying vessels before they leave North Africa.

European Union leaders are expected to decide in June on the plan for quotas, which was proposed by the bloc’s executive agency, the European Commission, and calls for the 28 member states to take in as many refugees as their size and economic circumstances permit.

The current system is already under serious strain and will be unable to handle the even larger flows of people expected to arrive during the summer when seas are more navigable, the commission warned.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the quota proposals represented a “bold agenda” that should “address the plight of those escaping from wars, persecution and poverty.” Migration, she said, “is a shared responsibility” for all “member states.”

Gianni Pittella, an Italian lawmaker at the European Parliament, said the announcement showed that “Europe is waking up.” There has been “a shameful delay” but European Union authorities have “finally taken a step forward on the way to creating a common European policy on migration,” said Mr. Pittella, who is the president of the Socialists and Democrats group at the Parliament.

Theresa May, the British home secretary, took a sharply different view. Britain “must — and will — resist calls for the mandatory relocation or resettlement of migrants across Europe,” she wrote in Wednesday’s issue of The Times of London.

What’s Behind the Surge in Refugees Crossing the Mediterranean Sea

There were about 17 times as many refugee deaths from January to April this year as there were during the same period last year.

“Such an approach would only strengthen the incentives for criminal gangs to keep plying their evil trade — and reduce the incentive of member states to develop their own effective asylum systems,” she warned.

Her criticism followed comments a day earlier from Martin Povejsil, the Czech ambassador to the European Union, who suggested that his country would resist mandatory plans to accept migrants.

“For most of them, the Czech Republic never was and never will be a country of their choice,” Mr. Povejsil said. “So to bring them into the Czech Republic or into similar member states of the E.U. is only a temporary solution which cannot solve anything.”

The British, Irish and Danes are expected to be able to opt out of the proposed quota system, but others, including the Czechs, would need to try to mount enough opposition to block approval. That is seen as unlikely, because the plan is expected to have the backing of much larger member states like Italy, France and Germany that should be able to push the measure through in the European Union’s weighted voting system.

The second plank of the European response — military action to destroy vessels used by traffickers before they leave African shores — would be directed toward a possible campaign in the Mediterranean and in Libyan territorial waters.

A version of that plan seen this week by the The New York Times suggested that operations “ashore” in Libya may be needed to destroy the traffickers’ vessels and materials, although at a news conference on Wednesday, Ms. Mogherini sought to rule out ground operations.

No “boots on the ground” were foreseen in Libya, Ms. Mogherini said. Instead, the plan envisions coordination with Libyan authorities to carry out “a narrow operation to dismantle the business model” of the traffickers.

Those operations, to be discussed at the meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, would be primarily “naval,” she said.

Fonte: The New York Times


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