Speaking at the doorstep of the informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Sofia on Thursday, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship said that the EU’s relocation and resettlement scheme has been a European “success story”.
“The EU relocation scheme works, and I can tell you that that it is a success because more than 30,000 thousand people have already been relocated within the framework of the programme. We are not where we were three years ago…we have made a significant progress with the support and contribution of the member states,” said Avramopoulos.
Having been asked about the failure of Eastern Europe countries to accept their required quotas for refugees, the Commissioner appeared irritated by the notion of an East/West divide and urged journalists to stop using the terms “Eastern” and “Western” Europe as the labels are considered historical anachronisms by Brussels.
The EU migrant relocation and resettlement scheme was adopted by the Council at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015 when hundreds of thousands of people, mainly from the conflict-ridden Middle East and African countries, poured into southern Europe.
According to the controversial relocation contentious programme, which ended in September 2017, more than 160,000 refugees should have been transferred from Greece and Italy to other EU member states.
Solid evidence of the programme’s success is elusive as thousands of refugees continue to live in limbo – living in squalid conditions in both Italy and Greece, as well as in non-EU countries in the Balkans – as they await word of their pending relocation or deportation.