Friday

23rd Feb 2018

Macedonia to face thousands of EU-bound migrants

Up to 3,000 migrants are expected to cross into Macedonia on a daily basis throughout the next several months, as the European Commission eyes court action against over a dozen member states for violating asylum rules.

The projected migrant figure, announced Tuesday (25 August) by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also comes amid demands by Hungary for the European Commission to dole out more border funds.

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UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said large groups of people are arriving in Macedonia and then traveling to Serbia by train or bus.

“We are anticipating that this influx and this route is going to continue at the rate of up to 3,000 people per day”, she said.

The agency said around 10,000 people crossed into the Western Balkan country last weekend, many of them women and children.

Some 340,000 also crossed the Mediterranean this year in the hope of seeking refuge in Europe, with around 2,300 dying in the attempt.

The total represents around 0.07 percent of Europe’s population of 508 million people.

Hungary rush

Hungary’s bid to complete its 175km border fence with Serbia is also driving the push, noted Fleming.

Prime minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff on Tuesday told the daily Magyar Hirlap newspaper the EU’s €8 million pledge to help it with border management is not enough.

"The European Union distributes border protection funds in a humiliating way. Old member states have nicked the money from new members”, he was quoted as saying, reports Reuters.

The commission, for its part, says Hungary is slated to get €85 million from 2014 to 2020 from its border and asylum funds, and will soon disperse another €8 million from a separate emergency fund.

“We recently received a further request for funding for emergency assistance to deal with the crisis situation currently, which we are fast-tracking in order to provide in the shortest amount of time possible”, EU commission spokesperson Natasha Bertaud said on Tuesday.

Court action

Meanwhile, Hungary, along with 17 other member states is on the European Commission’s hit-list for committing various violations against EU asylum laws.

The move follows expanded oversight powers on justice and home affairs areas by the commission since the start of December last year.

It means the EU body can take member states to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for not applying rules under the so-called Common European Asylum System.

“We already have 32 infringement cases open against various member states on the application of what are very new rules”, said Bertaud.

The Common European Asylum System is composed of the Dublin regulation, the asylum procedures directive, the reception conditions directive, the qualification directive, and the long-term residence directive.

Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden are all under scrutiny.

Most of the cases involve the qualification directive, which establishes common grounds on granting international protection.

Ten cases are open on the long-term residence directive, seven on the asylum procedures directive, three on reception conditions, and two on the Dublin regulation.

Macedonia PM resigns, as EU comes to town

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