Monday

11th Dec 2017

EU commission dodges Dublin return question on Greece

The EU commission has backed down on demands for EU states to first relocate more asylum seekers from Greece before sending others back to the country.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday (2 March) dodged a direct question on the issue, suggesting that the precondition for the returns to take place to Greece is no longer valid.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The commission last year said so-called Dublin returns to Greece could start on the condition EU states relocate their promised share of asylum seekers from the country.

"It [Dublin transfers to Greece] will work only if other member states do their part in picking up the pace of relocation," Avramopoulos had said in December.

Dublin is an EU asylum law that largely places the burden of processing asylum seeker claims on the country where they first entered.

With people first arriving in Greece and then spreading across the rest of the EU, national governments are keen to send them back to Athens.

But returns to Greece were banned by EU states in 2011 following two judgments by the European Court of Human Rights and another by the European Court of Justice, due in part, to the poor treatment of people by Greek authorities.

The EU commission has since recommended returns to start once again as of 15 March on the condition EU states relocate more people, which they have not.

The two year scheme, which ends in September, requires them to accept over 63,300 people from Greece.

Only 9,600 have so far been relocated to other EU states. It means that at the current pace, just over half of the total will be met in September. Austria, Hungary, and Poland have so far refused to accept any.

When pressed if this means Dublin returns to Greece would no longer take place, Avramopoulos gave an evasive response.

"There are no excuses or pretexts anymore, I believe that all member states will decide to do their duty as I said and the situation will be smoother in the future," he told EUobserver.

Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere in early January already started looking into plans on sending people back to Greece.

Some 60,000 people are thought to be stuck in Greece, of those, an estimated 20,000 are eligible to be relocated.

With an average daily of some 43 people still arriving on the Greek islands from Turkey, the camps in Lesvos, Samos, and Chios are at risk of becoming even more overcrowded.

Italy and EU commission fines

Italy is facing similar problems.

EU states are supposed to relocate just under 35,000 by September. But of those, only 3,936 have been dispatched as of date.

The commission has been wary about imposing sanctions on EU states that fail to meet the September deadline.

On Wednesday, Avramopoulos had sent a joint-letter with Malta's interior ministry to all his counterparts in the EU asking them to deliver on the relocation quotas.

"The relocation schemes end in September but the responsibility of members to fulfill their obligations does not end there. It is as if you have an outstanding bill, you have to pay it," Avramopoulos told reporters.

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 asylum return focus expands police scrutiny

EU interior ministers agreed to start legislative talks with the EU parliament to expand the scope of an asylum database, Eurodac, to include migrants and stateless people.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  2. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  3. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  7. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  9. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  10. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  11. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  12. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage