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EU to study proposal for new asylum policy

EU interior ministers will study a proposal for a "rapid reaction" team of medics and asylum experts, to deal with the sudden influx of migrants.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 13:55 IST
Reuters
Reuters
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EU interior ministers will study a proposal for a "rapid reaction" team of medics and asylum experts, to deal with the sudden influx of migrants, as part of the bloc's efforts to better coordinate its asylum policy.

The overall number of asylum-seekers to the EU is falling, yet some states such as Malta and Slovakia are facing an increase. In fact, the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa received six hundred illegal immigrants in a single day last May.

The European Commission wants all EU states to help those countries affected by such influxes. One proposal in this regard is the creation of mobile units of interpreters, medics and asylum experts drawn from across the EU by the year 2007.

"It is not fair if member states are punished because of their geographical location," said a Commission spokesman of the greater exposure of the Mediterranean EU states to inflows.

The EU ministers had given initial backing to the idea last month but they are not expected to give the final approval yet. Germany and some other EU states have in the past proven reluctant to share the cost of dealing with migrant influxes that affect them less.

Efforts to coordinate EU policy in migration and asylum policy have often run up against deep-rooted divergences among member states because of their different locations within the bloc and historic ties with other countries.

EU states have so far failed to agree on which countries can be deemed "safe" so that asylum requests from their citizens can be dismissed as unwarranted.

While ministers will take a fresh look at that project on Tuesday, the Commission is also urging them to examine a less ambitious idea to share nationally held data on migrants' countries of origin.

EU officials believe that if member states were to share such data, their views on asylum might also converge more.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 13:55 IST