European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos Tuesday proposed financial incentives to European Union member-states to take in migrants from Mediterranean rescue boats as Italian authorities continue to turn away such vessels.
The proposals effectively expand on those that were agreed at a tense EU summit earlier this month prompted by the stance of Italy’s new populist government.
The proposal foresees offering funding to volunteer countries to set up and and run centers to assess whether people qualify for asylum in Europe or should be sent home as economic migrants. It also foresees that volunteer nations get 6,000 euros for every asylum seeker they admit from those “controlled centers.”
“We are ready to support member-states and third countries in better cooperating on disembarkation of those rescued at sea,” Avramopoulos said in a statement. “But for this to work immediately on the ground, we need to be united not just now, but also in the long run,” he added.
In addition to processing centers within the EU, the summit also agreed to consider setting up regional “disembarkation platforms” outside the bloc, most likely in North Africa, as part of efforts to discourage migrants from boarding smuggling boats bound for Europe.
According to European Commission officials, the aim of this initiative is to provide “quick and safe disembarkation” in line with international law, including the principle of non-refoulement, while it will be implemented in close cooperation with the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).