Spain’s secretary of state to the EU, Jorge Toledo, claimed on Wednesday that Spain could not fulfil its objectives with regard to the resettlement of refugees because in reality “there are not than many displaced people” and many of them have “resettled themselves” of their own accord.
During his speech to the Joint Parliamentary Commission for the European Union, Toledo (pictured) insisted that Spain, which originally agreed to accept 17,237 refugees before September, was in line with the average number of refugees resettled across Europe, having accepted 1,304 people, of which 886 were part of the resettlement programme.
He said the figure was “low” as a consequence of “difficulties in carrying out the resettlement”, like the excessive time it has taken to establish ‘hotspots’ or access points, where immigrants are held until theu are identified and registered in order to prepare their resettlement. He also added that those seeking resettlement tend to be “very reticent when it comes to registration and identification” because if they go down this route they can not then request asylum in the countries of their choice, which tend to be the Nordic countries and those in the northern or central Europe, like Germany.
He made it clear that “to start with, nobody was requesting asylum in Greece”, since the regulations establish that they “then have to stay there” and since the borders were open, they tended to “resettle themselves, arriving and then leaving at will”. He added that it was “very difficult to resettle people who don’t want to be resettled”.
“We cannot meet our quota,” he insisted, “because there are not that many people registered for resettlement, people who have requested international protection, who we could bring to Spain”.
Despite the fact that Spain has only actually resettled 432 refugees so far, Toeldo insisted that the country had made a “huge effort” to meet its EU obligations.
His words were less than convincing to opposition ears with the socialist MP Eduardo Madina asking Toledo to come up with a “better argument” to explain the reasons for Spain’s failure to meet their objectives. Podemos MP Idoia Villanueva described the situation as “unacceptable” and challenged the secretary of state to explain how he could possibly say that “these people don’t want to be resettled”. Jokin Bildarratz for the PNV accused the government of “inefficiency and improvisation in their people management”, and Fernando Maura from the Grupo Mixto said he “could understand the resettlement problems”, but that if there was political will, it would have been achieved.