The EU has announced it is working on a new plan to take in 50,000 refugees from Africa.
The European Commission says it has set aside 500million euros to find homes for refugees mostly from Libya, Egypt, Niger, Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia.
It also wants to encourage private sponsorship schemes to help migrants avoid people smugglers and come to Europe legally.
The EU has announced it is working on a new plan to take in 50,000 refugees from Africa
The EU Commission said it ‘is recommending to bring at least 50,000 of the most vulnerable persons in need of international protection to Europe over the next two years.’
It added: ‘This is part of the Commission’s efforts to for those who risk their lives at the hands of criminal smuggling networks.
‘The new scheme will be in place until October 2019 and will build on the current successful resettlement schemes which are now coming to an end.’
A two-year programme which finishes on Wednesday relocated 29,000 asylum seekers out of a planned 160,000 as nations such as Hungary and Slovakia refused to co-operate. Britain is not involved in the scheme.
EU promises to return more migrants home
While housing asylum seekers, the EU wants to return home those not deemed worthy of a asylum.
In 2014-15 the bloc returned only 36 per cent.
The Commission proposes to step up return efforts ‘on all fronts’.
It said: ‘The efforts will be significantly reinforced within the European Border and Coast Guard to ensure the Agency can implement a truly proactive return management approach and drive and coordinate the EU-wide management of returns.’
Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini said the policy ‘is about managing one of the most complex, structural phenomena of our times, not a temporary emergency. ‘
The EU said it would simultaneously increase efforts to send illegal migrants who are not granted asylum home.
The Commission said: ‘The efforts will be significantly reinforced within the European Border and Coast Guard to ensure the Agency can implement a truly proactive return management approach and drive and coordinate the EU-wide management of returns.’
The move is part of the EU’s effort to cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees and unauthorized migrants who have tried to enter Europe in recent years.
Earlier this month the EU’s highest court upheld Brussels’ right to force member states to take in asylum seekers, dismissing complaints by Slovakia and Hungary about EU migration policy.
In the latest twist to a dispute that broke out two years ago when more than one million migrants poured across the Mediterranean, the European Court of Justice found the EU was entitled to order national governments to take in quotas of mainly Syrian refugees relocated from Italy and Greece.
The programme set up by the executive European Commission was approved by majority vote of member states in the face of opposition from formerly communist countries in the east who said their societies could not absorb mainly Muslim immigrants.
A migrant walks past the slogans which reads ‘Refugees Welcome’ written on a wall near the former Jungle in Calais, France
The Luxembourg-based court ruled: ‘The court dismisses the actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary against the provisional mechanism for the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers,’ adding it rejected the complaints ‘in their entirety’.
‘The mechanism actually contributes to enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis and is proportionate.’
The immigration scheme provided relocation of up to 120,000 people, but only about 25,000 have so far been moved.
A further programme for resettling people directly from outside the EU has also struggled to hit targets for taking in asylum-seekers.
Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos tweeted: ‘Time to work in unity and implement solidarity in full.’
The Commission’s chief spokesman, however, denied a report that the executive would propose a new round of 40,000 relocations.
It is unclear how far Brussels many try to force eastern states to take refugees, many of whom themselves are reluctant to settle in the poorer, ex-Soviet bloc.
However, countries like Germany and Italy which are housing large numbers have said the easterners are jeopardising western-funded EU subsidies if they go on refusing, adding to deep strains in the bloc as it deals with Britain’s imminent exit and a still limping economy.
Slovakia´s Economy Minister Peter Ziga told reporters: ‘The quota system does not work, so the court decision is, perhaps, irrelevant at the moment.’
Scores of migrants wait to be registered to be taken to refugee centre in France last year in the aftermath of an influx of asylum seekers fleeing war in the Middle East and Africa in 2015
He said a new mechanism was needed though the problem was not as grave as arrivals had declined.
‘I think the European Commission will find a way to solve this problem,’ Ziga added.
Eastern leaders say the bloc should control its borders better to crack down on illegal immigration — something Brussels says it has succeeded in doing in the past two years.
The EU has taken in more than 1.7million people from the Middle East and Africa since 2014.
But, after a mass influx in 2015, numbers have gone down steadily following actions last year that all but closed the route from Turkey to Greece and from Greece to the Balkans and northern Europe.
The EU has also increased support for Libya to curb arrivals in Italy.
The eastern EU states say they can send equipment and border guards to the bloc’s external frontiers in solidarity.
Hungary and Poland have refused to host a single person under the 2015 sharing scheme, while Slovakia and the Czech Republic have each taken in only a dozen or so.
Western EU states, including Germany, which took in the vast majority of the people who made it into the bloc and which will holds a parliamentary election on September 24, say the easterners cannot be exempted from showing solidarity.
While the EU has sought in vain to come up with a compromise, the court ruling may just force Brussels’ hand.
It is a delicate balancing act as putting such a thorny issue to a vote, and possibly passing a migration reform despite opposition from several states, would cause even more bad blood.
‘If we push it through above their heads, they will use it in their anti-EU propaganda at home,’ another EU diplomat said of Poland and Hungary, where the nationalist-minded governments are embroiled in disputes with Brussels over democratic rules.
‘But the arrivals are low, we have it more or less under control, so we have to get back to the solidarity mechanism.’