Sunday

25th Jun 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dodged a direct question on the issue, suggesting that the precondition for the returns to take place to Greece is no longer valid.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.

Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme

Member states could fail to meet their refugee quotas even if they wanted to, as strict eligibility rules mean there are few candidates left in Greece and Italy. Sweden is already wondering if it will meet its pledge.

Security and defence to top EU summit

Pressure is mounting for social media platforms to remove any online content deemed to incite terrorism. Draft conclusions, seen by EUobserver, have made the issue a top priority in leaders' talks next week.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit