A group of 38 asylum seekers left Italy for France last week. They are the first to be relocated under the EU's new 'voluntary solidarity mechanism.'
The asylum seekers left Italy for France on Thursday (August 25), according to the Italian interior ministry. France and Italy are among the countries that agreed to take in migrants and refugees from European countries that experience a large number of arrivals. France agreed to take in 3,000 people per year through the EU's new 'solidarity mechanism', according to reports from news agency ANSA.
Before the 38 asylum seekers could leave for France, Italian authorities carried out identification and health checks. The EU asylum agency also registered their international protection applications, while French authorities analyzed individual files, and interviewed asylum seekers. French officials had visited a center for asylum seekers in Bari, southern Italy between July 28 and August 2.
The EU and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reportedly helped in organizing the transfers.
What is the 'voluntary solidarity mechanism'?
In June, 21 European countries agreed to take part in a 'voluntary solidarity mechanism' at a meeting of the European Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg.
The mechanism seeks to provide EU members states "most affected by migratory flows" with help from other states through the relocation of refugees and financial contributions. The states set to benefit from the agreement are primarily southern European countries bordering on the Mediterranean (like Italy and Greece) and on the Atlantic (namely Spain).
Italian officials: 10,000 refugees relocated per year
Through the mechanism, 10,000 people are supposed to be relocated every year, according to Italian officials. The people selected for relocation should primarily be "persons in need of international protection, giving priority to the most vulnerable ones," the agreement reached by the countries' interior ministers reads.
The countries which agreed to participate in the mechanism are:
- 18 of the 27 member states of the European Union (namely Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania)
- Three countries not part of the EU but part of the Schengen Area -- a mostly border control free area in Europe (Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein).
Germany to take in 3,500 asylum seekers per year
Germany -- the most populous EU country -- has agreed to take in the largest number of refugees, followed by France. A total 3,500 people per year will be relocated to Germany, according to the German interior ministry. A delegation of German officials is expected to be visiting Italy in late August to carry out checks on a group of people slated to be relocated to Germany.
Italy -- located across the Central Mediterranean from Libya and Tunisia -- is the main destination for migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe from Africa. Last week, well over 1,000 of people arrived on Italy's shores. In 2021, more than 67,000 people arrived in the country via sea alone.