If Latvia agrees to resettle 776 refugees, subsistence costs and paid language lessons would cost around EUR 2.8 million, as stated in Latvia position in regard to EC’s offer to resettle additional refugees, according to information from LETA.
On Friday, 11 September, Saeima European Affairs Committee excluded from the agenda the matter regarding Interior Ministry’s prepared draft of Latvia’s position for the upcoming meeting of EU Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers Council meeting on resettlement of refugees. The coalition failed to reach an agreement in regard to the resettlement of additional refugees. With that, it was decided to exclude this matter from the agenda.
It will be possible to cover language education costs from the single payment of EUR 6,000 per refugee provided by the EU Asylum and Migration Fund. In total, the amount would come up to EUR 4,656,000, as mentioned in the draft. If Latvia agrees to resettle 776 refugees, it will be necessary to provide EUR 2,384,989 or EUR 198,749.12 per month as subsistence costs and EUR 463,737.06 or EUR 38,645 per month for language education.
It is also important to keep in mind that it will be necessary to create support fund to finance social integration, education and other aspects of welfare for refugees, as mentioned in the document.
Part of the single-time payment could be allocated for this purpose. However, it is worth keeping in mind that part of this funding will have been used to provide selection and relocation of those people to Latvia, as well as immediate needs after relocating (especially if the person has special needs).
The document regarding Latvia’s official position also mentions that it is impossible to predict possible impact on the state budget.
The EC offer states – if the member state has valid reasons why it cannot help out with refugee relocation, an alternative for the member state would be a ‘withdrawal payment’ to the EU budget (0.002% of the member state’s budget). For Latvia, this payment would be equal to EUR 480,000. This amount can be reduced proportionally depending on the level of involvement in resettlement process. It is assumed a member state will be allowed to resettle some of the refugees and pay for the refugees the member state cannot resettle, as mentioned in the document.
One important condition is the EC has to decide whether or not a member state’s reasons are valid enough to replace resettlement of actual people with a simple payment to the budget. If the EC disagrees, the member state will have to resettle a set number of refugees regardless, as stated in the document.
As previously reported, the European Parliament decided on supporting emergency measures to divide up the first 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other European Union member states, as reported by EP Information Bureau in Latvia press-secretary Signe Znotina-Znota.
Support for emergency measures came after EC President Jean-Claude Juncker announced in his speech ‘On the state of EU’ the next measures for resettlement of 120,000 refugees, the list of safe countries refugees are allowed to be sent back and a long-term mechanism for refugee resettlement.
EP calls for the possibility to consider asylum-seekers’ preferred countries they wish to seek asylum in. This is because it is related to criteria like family ties, social or cultural link, language skills, previous study or work experience in a specific country.
Head of the largest party in the European Union – European People’s Party – Manfred Weber urged MEPs not to forget that the situation involves many unfortunate people. He believes the «problem does lie in Europe or Brussels, it lies in national egoism». President of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Gianni Pittella notes that: «We have to welcome the refugees, otherwise Europe doesn’t exist as a concept, as a union set up in solidarity».
IF the EP decision is approved by the EU Council as well, the decision will come into force after publication in the Official Journal. Member states that take part in the plan will receive EUR 6,000 for every resettled refugee.
BNN had also reported that Straujuma said that Latvia is currently the only country that has not agreed to Juncker’s proposal about refugees. «There are two countries that wish to expand the voluntary principle,» – added Straujuma.
Straujuma predicts EU ministers will not be able to make their decision on the refugee matter on Monday. It is likely the final decision may come on 8 October, if there is no attempt to block it. «Latvia will carry out this decision whatever it may be,» – said Straujuma.
Leader of Saeima faction of Union of Greens and Farmers Augusts Brigmanis says his party opposes resettlement of additional refugees. He emphasized that «we are prepared to work with EU» and «be reliable partners for the EU». However, he added that Latvia’s security is top priority for the party.
«Everyone should understand clearly that the next refugees, that are already knocking on the door, will be divided up,» – said Bergmanis. He added there are currently no answers to all questions.
Edvins Snore of the National Alliance says his party does not support Juncker’s proposal regarding resettlement of additional refugees in EU member states. NA believes Latvia should be provided with a special status and be allowed not to resettle any refugees, considering the country’s migration history.