EU chief says he expects Britain to take part in EU plan to relocate refugees from Africa

EU chief says he expects Britain to take part in EU plan to relocate refugees from Africa:

A TOP eurocrat today said he expects Britain to take part in a proposed EU scheme to relocate genuine refugees from Africa to Europe, which is primarily designed to bring an end to the continent’s growing migration crisis.

EU Commission deputy head Frans Timmermans said he anticipated Westminster green-lighting the voluntary programme because previous UK Governments had championed taking in people in need of international protection straight from refugee camps overseas.David Cameron pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees directly from UN-run camps in the Middle East rather than participating in Brussels’ migrant quota system, saying it was a better way of guaranteeing those in genuine peril were helped. 

Eurocrats are drawing up plans for their own relocation scheme from countries such as Libya, Ethiopia and Sudan in an attempt to smash the business model of people smugglers ferrying hundreds of thousands of people to Italy.The programme would be twinned with a Turkey-style migration deal with Libya under which all people crossing the Mediterranean would automatically be sent back, disincentivising them from making the perilous trip.

Mr Timmermans was asked during a press conference in Strasbourg this evening what the scope of the proposal would be in terms of numbers and whether or not he would expect the UK to take part even though it is leaving the EU.In response the eurocrat declined to go into numbers, saying that was a matter for ministers to discuss, but did stress that any scheme would be carried out in conjunction with the UN to make sure only eligible people were provided with sanctuary.

He said: “I would imagine that the UK would be part of this discussion, especially because resettlement from the very start has been a pivotal element in the British approach to this problem.

“And if we talk about a new resettlement pledging exercise notably from Libya, Egypt, Niger, Ethiopia and Sudan which we can do in conjunction with the UNHCR, this would all meet the requirements the British governments in the past have always set for doing resettlement.

“That you work closely with the UNHCR, you identify the people who would be eligible et cetera, et cetera, and I think this is an exercise we need to do at the European level and I count on solidarity from all member states including the UK.”

During the press conference Mr Timmermans expressed extreme sympathy for Italy, which is currently struggling to cope with 10,000 new arrivals every day, and berated other member states for not coming good on their commitments to relocate migrants.But he also admitted that the majority of those being rescued at sea are not refugees but economic migrants, and said the only way to regain the trust of European populations and restore their faith in the system for those genuinely needing asylum was to start deporting more people.

He said: “Many of the people arriving in Italy today, when scrutinised, do not have the right to international protection because they don’t flee from war or persecution.

“They seek a better life which is a noble exercise in itself but does not grant them the right to stay in the European Union.”

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