On October 8, European Justice and Home Affairs ministers met to discuss the new relocation framework set up by Finland, France, Germany, Italy, and Malta, which is based on voluntary collaborations amongst member states. The new deal holds that within four weeks, migrants and refugees will be either relocated amongst participating member states or returned if they are not in need of asylum. The arrangement is expected to run until the new college of commissioners takes over in November 2019. Only three additional member states pledged to join the deal after the meeting.
In the light of last week’s agreement on a new, temporary relocation system, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) in the European Parliament organised a hearing on October 3rd on the topic of ‘Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean Sea’. The debate touched upon core issues of the EU’s obligation, both legally and morally, to rescue people at sea. The debate precedes a renewed member state discussion about refugee relocation on 8 October.
On September 23, the interior ministers of Germany, France, Italy, Finland and Malta agreed on a temporary and voluntary scheme to divide migrants that arrive or are saved from the Mediterranean Sea among the five countries, outside of an EU framework. The proposal aims at relieving Italy and Malta from the high number of migrants and refugees that are arriving at their ports and moves away from the actions of the previous Italian government led by Matteo Salvini, who forbade several rescue boats to dock in Italy. The five countries hope that the scheme may set up an EU-wide relocation scheme that can increase the efficiency of resettling those rescued at sea.