Bulgaria to insist on revision of migrant quotas – government

Bulgaria to insist on revision of migrant quotas – government

Sofia, June 9, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe

Bulgaria will insist that the migrant quotas proposed by the European Commission correspond to the capabilities and geographical location of EU member states and be significantly smaller for countries like Bulgaria, which are an external boundary of the EU and are under strong migration pressure.

This is stated in Bulgaria’s position on the European Agenda on Migration, adopted on June 8 by the Council for European Affairs.

The position will be officially presented at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on June 15 and 16 in Luxembourg, the Bulgarian government said.

According to the relocation scheme, proposed by the European Commission on May 27, envisaging the relocation of 40 000 people from Italy and Greece, and the specific migrant quotas for EU countries, Bulgaria would have to take in a total of 572 people – 343 from Italy and 229 from Greece.

EU member states are expected to receive 6000 euro for each person relocated on their territory.

Under the resettlement scheme, EU member states can voluntarily take part in the resettlement of an additional 20 000 migrants over a two-year period based on a distribution key, according to which Bulgaria’s migrant quota is 1.08 per cent, or 216 people. The total funding to be made available under the scheme over the next two years amounts to 50 million euro.

Bulgaria’s position is that according to current calculations, the quotas are “disproportionate” as they do not take into account the specific characteristics of countries.

“While Bulgaria supports relocation and appreciates the efforts of the European Commission to establish an effective solidarity mechanism, it doubts the proposals are balanced and the allocation mechanism is fair enough,” the government media statement said.

Bulgaria’s position is that the proposal of the EC does not take into account the geographical location of the country as an external border of the EU and its close proximity to regions that are a source of migration.

Bulgaria insists that, since according to the EC proposal, “Italy’s and Greece’s geographical situation, with the ongoing conflicts in the region of their immediate neighbourhood makes them more vulnerable than the other member states”, this fact should also be applied to Bulgaria.

The government is insisting that quotas for countries on the front line that are permanently exposed to migratory pressure and located near regions of ongoing and increasing crisis, be smaller than those for countries located towards the “centre” of the EU and not exposed to such pressure.

Bulgaria is also insisting that migratory patterns are constantly monitored and that a shorter period for revision of statistics relevant to quotas is determined.

The position stipulates that the two-year period is too long, as trends change and migration is expected to increase.

Bulgaria will insist that a comprehensive understanding of the specific pressures on the country and available migrant intake capacity are taken into account, the government said.

“The burden is to then be distributed in accordance with capabilities of the respective Member State and its unique situation,” the statement said. The document states that countries like Bulgaria, which, although smaller than Italy and Greece but also under migratory pressure, should be allocated considerably smaller quotas.

“The lack of a common European policy on integration leads to substantial differences in the capabilities of individual member states. It is thus important to consider where and how can migrants be integrated best,” the government said.

Bulgaria’s government said that it welcomes the Commission’s proposals on trafficking of migrants and calls for focusing efforts on countries that are a source of migration.

The government also supports the creation of a single point of contact on issues of people trafficking as well as the deployment of European liaison officers on migration in third countries, including a liaison officer of the EU border management agency Frontex in Turkey.