Saturday

23rd Jul 2016

EU commission defends ailing migration policies

  • Avramopoulos: From the moment this system starts working, things will be totally different" (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service)

The European Commission continues to defend EU agreements, broadly ignored by member states, to better manage migrant inflows.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the commissioner in charge of migration, on Wednesday (10 February) said national governments are lagging behind on overall efforts.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"If all member states had done what they were supposed to do the landscape of the situation would be different than today," he said.

The former Greek defence minister evoked vague threats of a Europe returning to the "dark sides, the dark memories of our recent history" should the plans fail.

"From the moment this system [the hotspots to register migrants] starts working, things will be totally different," he said.

Avramopoulos' statements followed the commission publication of a series of so-called progress reports on how agreements tailored to ease the migratory pressure on the Western Balkans, Greece and Italy are being implemented.

With exceptions on the recent uptake of asylum registrations in Greece and Italy, the EU executive's overall assessment remains dire.

The wider prognosis comes as little surprise given the political and logistical problems that have dogged the EU-level agreements for months.

EU summit

The release of the documents is meant to stir debate among EU leaders ahead of an EU summit in Brussels next week.

Leaked draft summit conclusions seen by this website places emphasis on shoring up external borders and refusing entry even to those "who have not made an asylum application despite having had the opportunity to do so."

Avramopoulos, for his part, said he had sent letters to all EU interior ministers to pressure them into relocating some 160,000 people from Greece and Italy over the next two years.

"So far, only 497 migrants were relocated," he said of a plan launched last September.

Fifteen EU states offered 1,081 places to relocate some 66,400 people from Greece. Only 218 have been filled. Italy's relocation target is 39,600 but only 279 have been dispatched.

Over 880,000 people landed in Greece from Turkey last year alone with projected figures suggesting many more will arrive. But of those, Greece managed to return less than 20,000. Italy, for its part, returned around 14,000.

The return problem, is due in part, to bi-lateral readmission agreements not being respected by countries like Pakistan and Turkey.

Avramopoulos noted, among other things, that Greece will have a month to improve asylum reception conditions so that other states can start transferring migrants back to Athens under the strained Dublin asylum rule.

Greece in 2011 was booted out of Dublin, which says a country through which asylum seekers first entered the EU have to handle applications for asylum on behalf of all other member states.

The policy is set for a big overhaul in March. But it will still have to go through the normal EU co-legislative procedures, a process that could take years given past reform efforts on Dublin.

Greece and Italy improve fingerprinting

Meanwhile, Greece and Italy have made some improvements.

Fingerprints registered in the Eurodac asylum database in Greece went from 8 percent last September to 78 percent this January. Italy went from 36 percent to 87 percent over the same period.

But both have yet to get all their respective migrant arrival screening zones up and running. Known as hotspots, the zones underpin EU's stalled relocation scheme.

Out of the five designated hotspots in Greece, only the one in Lesbos is operational. The Greek Army is aiming to get others ready by next Monday. Greece is able to house around 17,600 arrivals but committed to accommodating 50,000.

In Italy, out of six announced, only one in Lampedusa and another in Pozzallo are running.

The Western Balkans are also coming up short. Less than half of the 50,000 additional reception places have been made available.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event Agenda for 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels

Latest News

  1. Munich attack might not have been terrorism
  2. A very British (and Corbynite) coup
  3. Poland 'changing for the worse' for Muslims and refugees
  4. EU aims to lift visas on Turks despite purge
  5. ECB in ‘bail-out’ of scandal-tainted VW
  6. EU failed to learn lesson from Brexit, Poland says
  7. UK accord on EU workers 'crucial', France says
  8. EU and US take different lines on Turkey crackdown