Sunday

24th Mar 2019

EU calls for solidarity on migrant crisis

  • 'All governments must show responsibility', said Avramopoulos (Photo: European commission)

The EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, called, Friday (14 August), for EU member states to help fellow countries facing increased arrivals of migrants.

"We need the collective courage to follow through on our commitments. Even when they are not easy, even when they are not popular," he said at a press conference in Brussels.

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"What is popular and unpopular has to do with domestic politics, but we must not give in to populism and xenophobia”.

"The EU must think and behave like a union. All governments must show responsibility," he added, without naming and shaming countries which do not do enough.

On Monday, the European Commission approved €2.4 billion over the 2014-2020 period to assist member states cope with the situation.

Avramopoulos repeated that Europe must "show solidarity and share responsibility" especially with Greece, his home country, where "almost 50,000 migrants arrived in July compared to less 6,000 last year for the same month".

The commissioner was in Athens on Thursday, where he participated in a cabinet meeting that discussed "a plan for how we can work together to address a problem that is not Greek [but] that is European".

He announced that, on top of the €474 million approved on Monday (10 August) through a regular national programme on border and asylum management, Greece will soon get €2.74 million of emergency assistance to support activities of the UN refugee agency.

In the coming days, Greece will also ask to benefit from the European civil protection mechanism.

Meanwhile, Avramopoulos called on member states "to pledge the assets needed for Frontex’ joint-operation, Poseidon, operating in the Aegean Sea without delay", and he reminded press that the 28 EU leaders have “unanimously committed to reinforcing the number of assets".

Hungary, where 35,000 migrants arrived in July from the Western Balkans, will also receive €8 million of emergency aid, Avramopoulos said.

The commission has, in addition, received an emergency funding request from Austria and is expecting one from France over the situation in Calais, where migrants try to enter the Channel Tunnel.

"Hungary has joined Italy and Greece as frontline member state," Avramopoulos said. But he criticized the country’s decision to build a wall to stop people crossing from Serbia.

"In Europe, we take down walls, we do not put new ones," he said, suggesting also that the same criticism applies for the fence installed around the Channel Tunnel entrances.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

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