In a move designed to ease pressure on Greece and other Mediterranean countries, the European Union on Wednesday presented a plan aimed at a more fair distribution of immigrants among its member states.
The proposed blueprint, unveiled in Brussels by Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, foresees migrant quotas based on population, national income and employment levels.
Another boon for Athens was the proposal to triple the capacities and assets of Frontex joint operations Triton and Poseidon.
“Europe cannot stand by whilst lives are being lost,” said Avramopoulos, during a presentation along with Frans Timmermans, the Dutch vice president of the EU executive, and High Representative Federica Mogherini.
“In a spirit of greater solidarity, we are determined to implement a comprehensive approach that will improve significantly the management of migration in Europe,” the Greek commissioner said.
More than 5,000 people – many fleeing the civil war in Syria – have died over the past 18 months while trying to cross the Mediterranean. Nations on the EU border such as Greece, Italy and Malta have borne the burden of most arrivals.
On top of the quota system, which was quickly rejected by Britain’s freshly re-elected conservative government, the Commission proposed an EU-wide resettlement scheme for 20,000 refugees.
The new plan also foresees the use of a European military force to combat trafficking in the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, a study released on Wednesday found that the overwhelming majority of migrants who died while trying to get to Europe over the past quarter century vanished without trace.
According to the survey, which was carried out by experts at VU University Amsterdam who studied death registries in southern European states, only 40 percent of the bodies found since the 1990s have been identified.