Tuesday

18th Jun 2019

Balkan states to introduce more anti-migrant controls

  • Ministers want stranded refugees to remain in Greece

Over a dozen European interior ministers vowed to impose more measures to curtail migrants from using the Western Balkan routes in their efforts to seek better lives outside Greece.

Austrian-led efforts to shut down borders throughout the Western Balkans last year managed to cut the numbers of people reaching EU states further north.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But ministers on Wednesday (8 February) in Vienna said they would come up with additional plans in April as many still continue to travel through the former Yugoslav countries with help from smugglers.

"We're sending a signal to the traffickers with this conference that there will be no illegal migration to Europe," Austrian interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka told reporters.

Sobotka did not elaborate on details of the plans following talks with his counterparts from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Serbia.

Some 60,000 people are stranded in Greece following last year's border shutdown with Macedonia. Many in the camps and on the islands are enduring dire conditions.

EU states behind relocation promises

With EU states reneging on their commitments to relocate people from Greece, asylum seekers and migrants are turning to smugglers for help.

Member states had committed in September 2015 to relocate up to 160,000 people from Italy and Greece by the end of this year.

But relocation figures published by the European Commission on Wednesday indicate only 8,766 people have been removed from Greece. Another 3,200 were relocated from Italy.

Austria, Hungary and Poland have not relocated anyone. The EU commission has so far refused to threaten legal action against EU states for not meeting their relocation targets.

Instead, the commission recently announced that EU states would be able to start sending people back to Greece as of mid-March.

"Asylum seekers need to know that they cannot relocate themselves and that if they do so, they will be sent back," EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters in December.

He also said the transfers to Greece would only work if "other member states do their part in picking up the pace of relocation."

The commission wants EU states to start relocating at least 2,000 every month from Greece and another 1,000 from Italy.

By April, it wants them to further increase this to 3,000 per month from Greece and 1,500 from Italy.

Member states suspended transfers to Greece under the so-called Dublin rules following a European Court of Human Rights in 2011 on the inhumane conditions in its asylum centres.

The commission is set to present its next report on relocation in March.

Asylum conditions on Greek islands 'untenable'

Germany is preparing to send people back to Greece with the EU's blessing, even though the EU commission has described snow-covered migrant camps on Greek islands as "untenable".

EU leaders to push migration issue outside of Europe

EU leaders endorsed an Italian deal with Libya to help the North African country stem the flow of people, and pledged €200 million to help its coastguard patrol the seas in an effort to curb migration.

Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg will next month hold a public hearing on the refusal by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to release documents concerning its border control and surveillance operation known as Triton.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  2. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  3. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  4. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  5. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  6. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  7. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  8. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  2. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  3. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  4. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  5. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  6. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  7. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  8. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us