Friday

15th Nov 2019

EU considers migrant 'processing centres' in Balkans

  • Asselborn: 'These processing centres could be established both inside and outside the European Union' (Photo: iom.int)

EU interior ministers decided on Monday (9 November) to consider setting up processing centres in the Western Balkans to help with registration, identification, and finger printing of migrants.

These centres will be different from the so-called hotspots in Italy and Greece where migrants are registered and identified, but the idea still needs to be fleshed out.

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“These processing centres could be established both inside and outside the European Union”, said Luxembourg minister Jean Asselborn, who chaired the meeting Monday.

It's not yet clear when and how the processing centres will be set up.

Ministers also decided to define a “common information strategy” to discourage migrants “to embark on perilous journey and to have recourse to smugglers,” the conclusions of the meeting said.

The strategy will include “counter-narratives to the ones being used by the traffickers and smugglers of migrants,” as well as information about EU rules on migration and external borders.

“As part of an information strategy geared at reducing pull factors, it should be clearly explained that migrants must register in their first member state of arrival; that, under EU law, asylum seekers have no right to choose the member state responsible for examining their application; and that migrants without a need of protection will be swiftly returned,” the document noted.

Following the meeting, European commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said efforts to relocate migrants in other EU countries need to be stepped up.

“We need to move from the dozens to the hundreds if we want to make sure if this scheme will work properly”, said Avramopoulos, referring to the EU scheme to redistribute 160,000 people from Italy and Greece in the next two years.

The discussion on migration will continue at the highest political level on Wednesday and Thursday (11 and 12 November), when EU government leaders meet in the Maltese capital Valetta for a summit with their African counterparts before holding an informal EU summit.

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