In July 2017, the European Commission launched a resettlement pledging exercise for 2018, aimed to ensure continued support to resettlement programmes throughout the transition period from existing - but concluding - EU resettlement schemes to the operationalisation of the Union Resettlement Framework, which is expected to be adopted in the near future. In July 2017, the Commission earmarked an initial amount of €377.5 million to finance the resettlement of 37,750 individuals.
However, at the end of September the Commission issued a Recommendation to expand legal channels into the EU for third-country nationals in need of international protection, which increased the resettlement target, although the time frame under which resettlement would take place was also extended. Recognising UNHCR’s projected resettlement needs for 2018 – 1.2 million people worldwide -, the Commission called for the resettlement of at least 50,000 eligible individuals to be admitted by 31 October 2019. For this purpose, a €500 million budget was mobilised through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). Participating Member States are be entitled to a lump sum of €10,000 per person resettled from priority regions, as foreseen under Article 17(2) of the AMIF Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 516/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council). 20 Member States pledged 50,039 resettlement places for the period of 2018 to October 2019, with a target of resettling 50 per cent by October 2018.
Geographical priorities for resettlement under this scheme include continued resettlement from Turkey as well as Jordan and Lebanon. The Commission also emphasised the need to resettle from key African countries along the Central Mediterranean route, namely Libya, Egypt, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Ethiopia. This was in line with UNHCR’s call for an additional 40,000 resettlement places to be made available for refugees located in 15 priority countries along the Central Mediterranean route, where resettlement needs were estimated at 277,000. To advance efforts on this issue, a Core Group for Enhanced Resettlement and Complementary Pathways along the Central Mediterranean route was established, which is co-chaired with France and whose members include global resettlement States, IOM, the European Union and UNHCR.
With continued attention throughout 2017 on the tragic loss of life in Mediterranean Sea, UNHCR established an Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niger for the emergency evacuation of the most vulnerable persons in need of international protection from Libya to Niger with a view to their onward resettlement. The European Union supports the initiative financially, and many EU countries pledged to resettle refugees evacuated through the ETM.
By the end of 2017, operational details of a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme with Turkey (VHAS) were concluded between the EU and Turkey. The establishment of the VHAS was suggested in a Recommendation adopted by the European Commission in December 2015. Within the framework envisaged by the Recommendation, participating States will admit persons displaced by the conflict in Syria in need of international protection, who were registered by Turkish authorities before 29 November 2015. Following their admission to the EU, beneficiaries will be granted a temporary status, which should be valid for no less than one year. Despite agreement on the operational modalities, the VHAS needs to be triggered by EU leaders to be implemented.
The proposal for a Union Resettlement Framework was tabled by the Commission in July 2016. In October 2017, the European Parliament adopted its position on the legislative proposal, followed by the Council the following month. The co-legislators negotiate to reach an agreement on the final text.