On Friday 9 October, Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Luxembourg Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn will travel to Italy accompanied by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano for a concrete demonstration of the roll out of the European Union's comprehensive response to the refugee crisis. They will meet with the first group of asylum seekers to volunteer for protection in another Member State under the new relocation scheme proposed by the Commission, prior to their departure by plane from Rome's Ciampino airport, to have their asylum applications processed in Sweden. Twenty Eritrean asylum seekers came forward to register with the Italian authorities and provided their identification and fingerprints as part of the process. They will then visit the hotspot area operational in Lampedusa.
Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Avramopoulos said: "This is a historic day for Europe. It is a great expression of European solidarity, both with those in need of protection, and between our own Member States. The Commission wishes to thank the Luxembourgish Presidency for the swift adoption of this scheme, and to thank Sweden for leading the way in the first relocation from the 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece set to be offered asylum throughout Europe over the next two years. We are sure that the other Member States will soon be ready to play their part. Today we are showing solidarity, but we must also show responsibility. Greece and Italy should now finalise the rollout of the hotspot teams, in order to continue our efforts to strengthen Europe's borders. I'm looking forward to visiting the functioning hotspot in Lampedusa and seeing the work done to implement the Commission's proposals."
Tomorrow's first flight is the result of intensive preparatory work on the ground by the Italian and Swedish authorities, by Frontex and other EU agencies, by local NGOs, and by the special envoys which the European Commission has deployed. Tireless efforts have ensured that the system is operational, and the necessary registration and processing can be done at each step of the way. Outreach to the Eritrean community has also been an important way to build trust in the system and encourage participation. As a result, we expect to see an increase in the number of people being relocated in the coming weeks.
Commissioner Avramopoulos and Minister Asselborn will join Italian Minister of the Interior Alfano in greeting the asylum seekers at 09:30 at Ciampino airport, before the departure of their flight. This will be followed by a press conference at 09:45.
The deployment of Migration Management Support Teams – the so-called 'hotspot' approach – has strengthened the EU agencies on the ground and supported the work of the competent national authorities. The approach proposed and implemented by the Commission is already bearing fruit.
After the press conference, Commissioner Avramopoulos and Minister Asselborn will join Italian Under Secretary of State Manzione in Lampedusa, at 13:00, to visit the hotspot area and the see the Support Teams in action, working alongside the Italian authorities.
Commissioner Avramopoulos and Minister Asselborn will then travel onwards to Athens for meetings with the Greek authorities to discuss the hotspot roll out in Greece, and the planning of the first relocation flights. On Saturday, Commissioner Avramopoulos and Minister Asselborn will participate in a ministerial meeting at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, coordinated by the Minister of State for Coordination of Government Operations Mr. Alekos Flabouraris. Among the ministers that participate in the meeting will be: the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy Mr. Theodoros Dritsas, the Alternate Minister for Migration Mr. Giannis Mouzalas and the Alternate Minister for Public Order Mr. Nikos Toskas.
The Commission is confident that the Greek authorities are rapidly implementing the hotspot approach, with support from our services and the EU agencies, and will be ready to relocate people in the coming weeks.
The Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council on 14 September adopted the Decision to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, and the Extraordinary Home Affairs Council on 22 September agreed on the relocation of an additional 120,000 asylum seekers from Member States directly affected by the crisis.
Under the relocation scheme, asylum seekers with a high chance of having their applications successfully processed will be relocated from Greece and Italy, where they have arrived, to other Member States where they will have their asylum applications processed. If these applications are successful, the applicants will be granted refugee status with the right to reside in the Member State to which they are relocated.
The relocations will take place over two years, with the EU budget providing dedicated funding of €780 million to support this scheme. Beneficiary Member States of relocation will get €6000 per relocated person, including a 50% pre-financing rate to ensure that national authorities have the means to act very swiftly. Countries benefitting from the relocation will receive €500 for each person relocated, to cover transport costs to the Member States of relocation.
For more information:
European Commission Statement following the decision at the Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council to relocate 120,000 refugees: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-15-5697_en.htm
Memo – Q&A on Emergency Relocation: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-15-5698_en.htm
Press Release - Managing the refugee crisis: Immediate operational, budgetary and legal measures under the European Agenda on Migration: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5700_en.htm
Press Release - More Responsibility in managing the refugee crisis: European Commission adopts 40 infringement decisions to make European Asylum System work: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5699_en.htm
Factsheet – Towards an Effective Return Policy: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/e-library/multimedia/publications/index_en.htm#0801262490bfbb82/c_
Factsheet – A European Refugee Relocation System: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/e-library/multimedia/publications/index_en.htm#0801262490bfbb48/c_
Factsheet – The 'Hotspot' Approach: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/e-library/multimedia/publications/index_en.htm#0801262490bfbb7f/c_
All press materials on the EU Migration Agenda: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/press-material/index_en.htm
 Eritreans, Iraqis and Syrians, who currently have a more than 75% success rate in their asylum applications