Providing legal avenues

In April 2015, the European Council highlighted the need to set up a first voluntary pilot project on resettlement across the EU, in order to increase the number of places offered to persons in need of protection. As part of its European agenda on migration, the Commission presented a recommendation for a European resettlement scheme in May 2015. 

On 25 June 2015, the European Council agreed that all member states would participate in the resettling of 20 000 people in need of international protection. On 20 July 2015 the Council adopted conclusions setting down the details of this resettlement. 

In December 2015, the Commission presented a new proposal for a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme. EU leaders called on the Council to rapidly examine this proposal.

On 6 April 2016, the Commission presented a communication for the reform of the common European asylum system and enhancing legal avenues to Europe.

Resettlement from Turkey

On 18 March 2016, EU and Turkey leaders agreed that all irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey. This will take place in full accordance with EU and international law. As part of this agreement, for every Syrian returned to Turkey, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey into the EU.

Resettlement under this mechanism will take place by honouring the commitments member states made in July 2015, for which there are still 18 000 remaining places. Any further need will be covered by a voluntary arrangement, up to another 54 000 persons. These places will be taken from an existing decision to relocate people from Italy and Greece, for which 54 000 places had not yet been allocated to any of the two countries.

On 21 March 2016, the Commission made a proposal to amend the Council decision to relocate people in need of international protection from Italy and Greece. The Commission proposal will make the 54 000 non-allocated places available for the purpose of resettling Syrians from Turkey to the EU.

Once irregular crossings from Turkey end or are substantially lowered, a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme, following the Commission proposal from December 2015, will be activated.

Other legal avenues

EU and African leaders, meeting in Valletta on 11-12 November 2015, agreed on the need to also promote regular channels for migration and mobility between European and African countries. This includes the mobility of students, researchers and entrepreneurs, for example by doubling the number of scholarships for students and academic staff in 2016 through the Erasmus+ programme.

In addition, the EU is working on legislation which will enable it to remain an attractive destination for talented students, researchers and workers in general.