Professor Alexander Betts writes today in the New York Times about the EU’s agreement this week on a quota system to relocate 120,000 Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees across Member States. While this quota deal is a welcome step forward, there are serious political and practical challenges in its implementation: “It was passed without political consensus, it has no mechanism to ensure that people remain in the countries assigned to take them, and it does not say how those denied asylum will be treated.”
Professor Betts argues that the most significant problem with the agreement, however, is that it “does nothing to stop people from embarking on perilous journeys to Europe”. To achieve this, he says, the EU needs to “provide an alternative, legal means for asylum seekers to travel to Europe through ‘humanitarian visas’.” And he argues that this could be implemented unilaterally if an EU agreement could not be reached, citing the example of Brazil which has announced its willingness to provide humanitarian visas to Syrian refugees.
He goes on to detail how the challenges to issuing refugee travel documents could be overcome.