Earlier this month, the European Commission launched the European Agenda on Migration, intended to be a comprehensive new policy approach to trafficking, labor migration, border security and asylum issues. As European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos has put it, “We need more legal routes for people to arrive to Europe safely, and to avoid deaths in the Mediterranean and other irregular migrant routes. We need more resettlement places.”
The announcement comes as the migration crisis in Europe continues unabated. The same day the European Union launched the European Agenda on Migration, Italy rescued over 1,000 refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, north of Libya. The crisis has only worsened since last year, when Italy canceled its successful migrant rescue mission, Mare Nostrum, due to its high cost. At this rate, Europe is on track to receive even more migrants than the 270,000 who arrived last year.
In response, Italy is spearheading a proposal to establish overseas asylum processing centers in an effort to reduce its burden of processing so-called irregular migrants and asylum seekers. Proponents of the plan also believe that it will reduce the increasing number of dangerous Mediterranean crossings. The Italian plan would establish a series of asylum claim centers in transit countries in North Africa, which would be partially run by the United Nations Refugee Agency.