19th Mar 2018

EU embassies should take asylum requests, new commissioner says

Dimitris Avramopoulos , the incoming Greek EU commissioner for migration and home affairs, wants offices set up at the EU's foreign embassies to allow people to apply for asylum.

“We should have offices in the EU delegations all over the world, in particular in third countries, where we should allow people to apply for asylum or for legal migration status,” Avramopoulou told euro-deputies at his hearing on Tuesday (30 September).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The idea departs from Europe's existing and more restrictive migration policies, which critics say are forcing people fleeing persecution and wars to embark on perilous journeys on small boats across the Mediterranean Sea.

Some 3,000 people have already died in the attempt this year alone, with a report out by Amnesty International on Tuesday demanding a collective EU response amid reports Italy is set to wind down its Mare Nostrum search and rescue naval operations.

British centre-left MEP Claude Moraes, who heads the civil liberties committee, said Avramopoulos' plan had taken many deputies by surprise.

“I think most members would want him to develop that idea [and] it’s not something most members would have heard of before. I would give him marks for imagination,” Moraes told reporters following the hearing.

Avramopoulos is Greece’s minister of defence and a former mayor of Athens. If confirmed, he will become the first EU commissioner with "migration" in the title of his dossier.

The 53-year old, speaking in English and French in his opening address to the committee, said it is Europe’s responsibility to offer protection to refugees, to respect the rights of asylum seekers, and to guarantee an end to all pushbacks.

Up for possible review is the EU’s Dublin regulation, a policy that requires point-of-entry member states to take charge of all incoming asylum requests. The policy has generated controversy for the lack of solidarity among member states to help process claims.

Avramopoulos said some areas of the policy need to be revisited, but stopped short of calling for a complete overhaul.

The commissioner-designate also wants to reinforce the EU’s border agency, Frontex, which is set to expand its sea operations in the Mediterranean later this year.

The agency is mandated to co-ordinate border surveillance among member states but Avramopoulos suggested Frontex should place more emphasis on search and rescue.

“We should give priority to saving lives,” he said.

No to Fortress Europe

He noted tackling irregular migration requires respecting fundamental rights but warned against setting up a Fortress Europe, in reference to border control policies that prevent people from entering the EU in the first place.

That entails tackling populism and xenophobia in Europe head on.

“Let me clear from the very beginning, the answer to these challenges is definitely not Fortress Europe,” he said.

But later in the hearing he defended a controversial Greek policy to erect a razor-wire fence on the Turkish border along a part of the Evros river, which he said was designed to create “legal corridors”.

He also spoke in favour of a so-called charter on legal migration, which he says is needed to bring in skilled workers and offset the widening age demographics throughout the Union.

The line largely sticks to the mission letter he received from President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker on setting up a new policy on legal migration.

It would include reviewing exiting policies like the 'blue card' directive and other measures in a larger effort to attract more high and low skilled workers, students, and researchers to the EU.

MEPs also grilled Avramopoulos on his views on the scrapped EU data retention directive, the rising threat of foreign fighters, an updated EU passenger records name (PNR) proposal, keeping the EU’s internal border Schengen open, among other security-related issues.

Military deserters may claim EU asylum

Military personnel may claim asylum in the EU if they consider themselves to be at risk of prosecution or punishment for refusal to perform military service, according to an opinion by the EU's top court.

EU told to create coalition against fake news

After almost two months of talks, a panel of experts set up by the EU commission have issued a series of recommendations on how to fight fake news or what they prefer to term 'disinformation'.

Poland defends judicial reforms, warns against EU pressure

Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki presented the Commission with 94-pages of arguments backing Warsaw's controversial judicial reforms - while his EU minister warns that constant conflict with Brussels could stoke anti-European sentiment.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Selmayr case symptomatic, warns EU novel author
  2. Russia poisoning is not EU concern, Germany says
  3. Kiev wants EU sanctions on former German chancellor
  4. North Korea: time to put the 'E' in engagement
  5. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  6. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  7. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  8. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  2. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  4. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  5. EUobserverNow Hiring! Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience
  6. EUobserverNow Hiring! Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience
  7. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  10. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections
  12. CECEIndustry Stakeholders Are Ready to Take the Lead in Digital Construction