|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.21, 24.5.01, p7|
THE Swedish presidency is poised to
clinch a deal on controversial plans to harmonise the way the EU handles mass influxes of refugees - provided it can overcome objections from Austria and Germany.
The rules on temporary protection are intended to help the Union better cope with unexpected floods of refugees seeking temporary asylum, such as a repeat of the Kosovo crisis.
The Swedes are within a whisker of finalising the plans with 13 of the 15 member states in support of the proposals. Only Vienna and, to a lesser extent, Berlin are still objecting.
Diplomats say Sweden is "ratcheting up the pressure" to clinch the deal at a meeting of justice ministers on 28 May.
"It is extremely difficult for Austria to move on migration and related issues because of the sensitivity back home," said one. "But I would be surprised if they were in the political position to block everything on their own."
Vienna wants the time limit for temporary protection to be cut from the two years currently on the table to 18 months. It also wants stronger assurances that member
states bearing the heaviest burden will be given financial support in a Kosovo-type emergency.
Both Germany and Austria object to provisions allowing the families of temporary asylum seekers the right to join them. They fear the rules will set a precedent which could help member states push through more sweeping rights for permanent refugees to be joined by their families.
The stakes for Sweden are high: failure to close the deal would be a bitter blow.
"There is growing concern about the lack of achievement of the Tampere agenda," said a Commission official.
Justice Commissioner António Vitorino is said to be satisfied with the amendments made to his proposals since they were published a year ago.
Some elements of the plan have been toned down - refugees will be given less access to employment markets than Vitorino wanted, while moves to allow the EU to 'name and shame' member states which refused to take refugees have been axed.
"It's watered down, but not very much," said one Commission official.
Any tempering of the proposals would be a slap in the face for groups trying to help refugees. These say the Commission's original proposals were too weak because they stayed clear of introducing refugee quotas obliging EU nations to act in time of crisis.
The Swedish presidency is poised to clinch a deal on controversial plans to harmonise the way the EU handles mass influxes of refugees - provided it can overcome objections from Austria and Germany.
|Subject Categories||Justice and Home Affairs|