Sunday

30th Apr 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dodged a direct question on the issue, suggesting that the precondition for the returns to take place to Greece is no longer valid.

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.

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.

EU stands aside as Hungary detains migrants

Commission is withholding action on Hungary's detention of asylum seekers, even as the Hungarian government tries to "stop Brussels" on immigration policy.

Austria wants out of EU migrant relocations

Austria is required to start relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece after an exemption to the scheme ended on 11 March. But Austria's chancellor has other ideas and wants the exemption prolonged.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual