The Strategic Use of Resettlement
In recent years, concerns over how best to address problems associated with asylum systems across Europe as well as migrant smuggling have evolved into discussions over the strategic use of refugee resettlement in the European Union. Being considered by the European Commission and certain Member States, resettlement is a process whereby refugees having fled persecution across a national border may be screened and selected from their region of origin. Although six Member States have existing resettlement programs, this paper seeks to evaluate the extent to which expanding resettlement programs across the EU can provide a strategic tool to manage a greater number of legal arrivals to EU Member States and whether Member States possess the political will to engage in resettlement.
Although there is little evidence that engaging in resettlement will have a significant impact on reducing the number of spontaneous asylum-seekers in the EU or smuggling, the author finds that the strategic use of resettlement has many benefits. In addition to promoting the European harmonization process at large, public perceptions of resettled refuges tend to be more positive than those of asylum-seekers and strong resettlement programs can serve to demonstrate that governments are successfully managing refugee protection. In addition, resettlement can be used to bolster solidarity with countries of first asylum, offers a viable durable solution to the protection needs of refugees worldwide, and can be effectively mobilized as part of a larger comprehensive approach.
Based on these findings, the author urges all EU Member States, independently or collectively, to establish resettlement programs as part of a larger comprehensive approach to protection that includes both a Common European Asylum System and a Resettlement Program. In addition, the author suggests that partnerships be established between those Member States that already engage in resettlement and those that do not. Finally, the author recommends that the Commission engage the Council and the Parliament in a discussion over various avenues for establishing resettlement programs in all Member States and what the role of the Union and Commission in such programs would be.