The Mediterranean. Picture: Marcus Holland-Moritz

Finland’s presidency of the Council of the EU and ministers from the several EU member states and the Schengen associated countries alongside the European Commission have discussed the need to set up a more predictable and efficient temporary policy to ensure swift and dignified disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea.

The new mechanism aims at improving the current arrangements where the European Commission has to seek willing recipients for the disembarked asylum seekers one vessel at a time.

“There is a lot of understanding among the member states that instead of continuous ad hoc efforts we need more robust arrangements to follow up on search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean,” said Maria Ohisalo, the Finnish minister of the interior, in a statement.

“In order to succeed, we need as many member states as possible to participate and to share responsibility on a voluntary basis. The presidency will continue working on this. This work does not diminish the fact that we still need a reform of the Common European Asylum System,” said Maria Ohisalo, the Finnish minister of the interior.

The government has made a decision to relocate from Italy up to eight asylum seekers rescued in the Mediterranean by the end of the year.

The request to receive asylum seekers was made by the European Commission.

The applications of asylum seekers rescued by the Sea Watch III rescue vessel will be processed in Finland, and the regular asylum procedure will be followed.

The need for international protection will be assessed individually for each asylum seeker. Most of them are from the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Mali and Guinea.

As stated in Finland’s Presidency Programme, the objective is to facilitate the temporary relocation mechanism for asylum seekers rescued at sea.

Finland aims to move away from extemporary solutions toward more predictable and sustainable measures. The solidarity shown by the presidency in practice will promote the achievement of these goals.

Finnish Immigration Service is responsible for the preparations involved in relocation.

In 2015–2017, Finland relocated 1,980 persons from Greece and Italy.

Since June 2018, approximately 800 persons rescued at sea have been relocated to more than 10 countries within the EU.