EU Refugee Resettlement: Key Challenges of Expanding the Practice Into New Member States
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Refugee resettlement is not new to EU member states. But the EU only accounts for about 10 percent of resettlements globally. Before the 2015 European Council decisions to relocate about 160,000 persons from Italy and Greece only half of EU Member States participated in resettlement programs. Relocation of refugees has emerged as a new form of resettlement as an EU reaction to the growing refugee influx. It is likely to become a permanent part of Common European Asylum Policy. The refugee emergency has intensified discussions about the application of the solidarity principle to pressure member states not yet engaged in relocation to contribute to the joint efforts of the EU. But this has created serious political controversy in many of the new (eastern) member states. The article outlines key elements of refugee resettlement and relocation that have recently emerged in the EU and discusses the prerequisites for the sustainable use of this tool in an unfavorable political and unclear legal environment, with particular focus on new member states. The main goal of the article is to identify factors that need to be considered for the design of sustainable resettlement and relocation programs, considering the aspects of political salience, legal conditions, burden-sharing, and member states’ capacity. The case study of Lithuania presented in this article suggests that such programs need to be carefully considered and adequately funded as there are ample pitfalls which can quickly discredit the idea among the citizens.
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