Final MPI Europe report for EU-FRANK project assesses future goals for refugee resettlement in Europe, as EU member states have become major players
BRUSSELS — In recent years, European countries have emerged as primary players in the refugee resettlement landscape, welcoming nearly half of all refugees resettled worldwide since 2017—up from just 8 percent in 2007. Beyond the numbers, Europe has become a source of innovation in refugee resettlement, accounting for more than half of the refugee sponsorship programs launched worldwide and being at the forefront of efforts to improve the monitoring and evaluation of resettlement systems and test new approaches to welcoming refugees. European resettlement states also have strengthened their operational infrastructure and cooperation, drawing on lessons learned from resettlement out of the Syria region.
A new Migration Policy Institute Europe report, the last of a series on refugee resettlement done for the European Union Action on Facilitating Resettlement and Refugee Admission through New Knowledge (EU-FRANK) project, explores the opportunities for a bolstered EU refugee resettlement system.
Europe’s newfound role comes as both a responsibility and an opportunity. The growing capacity to resettle, coupled with continued political commitment to resettlement under the European Commission’s new Pact on Migration and Asylum, offer fertile ground for the development of a truly ambitious program for resettlement under the Commission’s current mandate, which runs until 2024.
To build on this progress, EU policymakers should, among other goals, consider:
- Motivating state action. The European Union will have to motivate Member States to maintain an active commitment to refugee resettlement. Linking resettlement goals to broader national policy objectives, amplifying the role of Member State "champions" that have ambitious resettlement programs and lowering the financial barriers to entry for national and local governments by increasing the EU-provided lump sum for each resettled refugee would help sustain coordinated resettlement efforts.
- Scaling up refugee selection in countries of first asylum. To expand the refugee referral process, the European Union should continue supporting existing institutional channels, such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while also building its own operational capacity. The recently created European Asylum Support Office (EASO) resettlement support facility in Turkey to assist Member States with processing resettlement cases, for example, could provide a model to deploy elsewhere.
- Investing in partnerships. Greater cooperation with countries of first asylum on coordinating development and humanitarian activities, as well as information-sharing with receiving communities, will help ensure that integration processes bring benefits for both refugees and host communities.
- Building up evidence through monitoring and evaluation. Investment in robust monitoring and evaluation is vital to determine the feasibility of projects and test innovative models. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting slowdown in resettlement, stakeholders may have a moment to strengthen their monitoring and evaluation frameworks.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted resettlement operations across the European Union and beyond, it may also come with a silver lining: It offers an unanticipated opportunity to take a step back and jointly think through how to generate the necessary political commitment and operational strength to develop and run a truly ambitious program of resettlement within Europe,” write authors Susan Fratzke and Lena Kainz.
The report, The Next Generation of Refugee Resettlement in Europe: Ambitions for the Future and How to Realise Them, can be read here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/next-generation-refugee-resettlement-europe.
All of MPI Europe’s research for the EU-FRANK project can be accessed here: www.migrationpolicy.org/eu-frank.
The EU-FRANK project is financed by the European Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and led by the Swedish Migration Agency. Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland are partner countries. For more on the project, click here.