Sweden in spotlight for biggest asylum share

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Sweden in spotlight for biggest asylum share
Migrants in the Mediterranean being helped by British troops this week. Photo: TT

Sweden's decision to take in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU nation remained in focus on Wednesday as the European Commission formally presented its plan for member states to share responsibility for refugees fleeing the Middle East and Africa.


Asylum figures by the EU's statistics watchdog Eurostat this week confirmed that Sweden is continuing to take in a bigger share of asylum seekers than any other member state, when compared to existing population size.
Around 9.6 million people live in the Nordic nation and asylum was granted to more than 33,000 refugees last year.
This means that for every one million people in Sweden, the Nordic nation took in 3,424 asylum seekers in 2014.
By contrast, Germany took in 589 per one million, while for the UK the figure was just 218.
Sweden's rate of acceptance was also the highest in the EU.
77 percent of applicants were granted protection in their first attempt and 18 percent of appeals received positive decisions in 2014.
In Germany, 42 percent of applicants got asylum on their first attempt and 16 percent of appeals were successful.
The figures emerged as the European Commission - the part of the EU that thinks up EU policies to be voted on by national leaders and MEPs - revealed its full proposals for addressing the influx of migrants seeking to reach the continent.
The key points from the plan had previously been leaked, as The Local reported on Tuesday.
In its report, the Commission said it planned to beef up European border controls and introduce quotas for the number of migrants each country should take in, seen as a way of more fairly sharing responsibility for refugees.
"The plight of thousands of migrants putting their lives in peril to cross the Mediterranean has shocked.
"It is clear that no EU country can or should be left alone to address huge migratory pressures," the Commission wrote in its report. 
Sweden's Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson is a strong supporter of the proposed quota system.
“Our Common European Asylum System is not very common in a situation where a handful of Member States are taking the responsibility for over 90 percent of the asylum seekers,” he told The Local on Monday after the Commisson's plans were leaked.
“For the Common European Asylum System to be sustainable in the long run, a more even distribution of asylum seekers within the EU is needed,” he added.
The Commission's report comes amid ongoing concern about growing numbers of refugees, especially from war-torn countries like Syria risking their lives to get to the Europe. Over the past few weeks, hundreds have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea by boat.
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Other proposals within the Commission's plan include better targeting of people smugglers, whose unsafe and over-crowded boats have been blamed for recent tragedies, and expanding resources for search and rescue operations.
It also calls for better methods for identifying migrants, improving ways for qualified immigrant workers to get jobs, and monitoring those whose applications are rejected to ensure they make it home.
The Commission has also said it is looking into finding ways to solve the problems that cause people to flee their home nations in the first place and building "stronger partnerships with key countries outside the EU".


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