The European Commission has admitted there is no enthusiasm among member states to help Malta and Italy with the wave of asylum seekers coming from Libya.

A report taking stock of an intra-EU resettlement pilot-project, designed specifically for Malta, confirms the Commission’s analysis.

Speaking on BBC radio yesterday on the problem of illegal migration, especially in relation to Lampedusa and Malta, European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom did not mince her words.

“We have been trying to help Italy and Malta, which bear the brunt of the Libyan conflict, by encouraging burden sharing among member states. However, it is true the mood in the EU is not enthusiastic about burden sharing,” she said.

Her admission confirms her earlier fears that, despite the “talk of solidarity”, the majority of member states still feel reluctant to relocate asylum seekers and refugees, this not being part of the EU culture.

According to the Commission’s Annual Report On Immigration And Asylum (2010), by the end of last year only 10 member states out of the 26 (excluding Malta) decided to participate in this project with the majority literally taking just a handful of refugees.

The report says that, since its launch in mid-2009 right up to the end of 2010, only 255 pledges were made, with the biggest being those of Germany (102) and France (93).

Four of the 10 participating member states (Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) had still to make their commitments and the UK – one of the largest member states – only offered to resettle 10 refugees.

The report says the project had cost the EU €2 million, allocated through the European Refugee Fund and each member state was getting an allowance of €4,000 per resettled refugee. The project has now been extended due to the Libyan crisis and, during a recent pledging conference, a minority of member states promised to take an additional 320 refugees or beneficiaries of international protection. Once again, the biggest offer was made by Germany, pledging to take another 100 people.

According to EU rules, member states are sovereign and Brussels cannot force them to resettle people enjoying international protection.

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