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James Brokenshire - Home Office

Further to the Explanatory Memoranda published by the Minister for Countering Extremism on 30 September, the Government has decided not to opt in to two Commission proposals for Regulations of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism amending Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one Member State by a third country national or a stateless and establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin for the purposes of Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and amending Directive 2012/32/EU.

The UK did not opt in to the two temporary proposals allowing for the relocation of individuals in need of international protection between EU Member States which were agreed over the summer. So far implementation of these has been extremely slow with only around 160 people relocated from Italy and Greece so far. Member states continue to argue over the detail. Negotiations on a permanent relocation mechanism have also proved long and difficult and it is unlikely consensus will be reached on this in the near future. This reinforces the view that relocation is the wrong response to the crisis and that the time and effort devoted to negotiating these measures would have been far better spent on implementing practical solutions to secure the external border and provide sustainable protection in the region, a position which the UK has been calling for since the beginning of the crisis.

The Government does see merit in establishing an EU wide safe third country list, especially for those Member States who have no experience of operating such a list. However, the UK has successfully operated its own list for many years and already has established procedures and safeguards in place, including Parliamentary approval before a country is designated. Opting in would also require the UK to opt in to the underlying 2013 Asylum Procedures Directive. The UK originally did not opt in to this Directive as it was deemed not to be in the national interest due to implications for immigration control and the integrity of UK legal systems. Those reasons remain valid and we see no advantage in opting in to this measure.

 


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