Wednesday

23rd Sep 2020

Germany to restart sending migrants back to Greece

  • Greek reception conditions have repeatedly been criticised by human rights groups. (Photo: PES)

Germany is to send back asylum seekers to Greece, ending a five-year suspension of the EU’s asylum rules on transfers because of poor reception conditions.

Greek migration minister Yiannis Mouzalas, speaking to the German public television channel ARD, in a program due to air on Tuesday (8 August), has confirmed that Greek authorities received 392 requests.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Mouzalas said Athens approved the return of a "small number" of asylum seekers from Germany and other EU countries.

The move would end a five-year suspension of the so-called Dublin regulations, the EU’s asylum rules.

Under the the union’s asylum rules, the EU country where the individual first enters the bloc needs to process the asylum request. If the asylum seeker has travelled on to other EU countries, they must be returned to their first point of entry.

At the peak of the migration influx in 2015, hundreds of thousands of people made their way to Germany and other EU nations through Greece, making use of the passport-free Schengen area.

The transfers to Greece will only affect asylum seekers who arrived in Germany and other EU countries from mid-March this year, in line with a recommendation issued by the European Commission last December.

The exact date of the transfers depends on the Greek authorities.

Returns to Greece were halted by EU states in 2011, following two judgments by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and another by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), partly due to the poor treatment of people by Greek authorities.

The EU commission said last year that the "Dublin returns" to Greece could start in March on condition that EU member states relocate their promised share of asylum seekers from Greece under the EU’s quota scheme.

But earlier this year, the EU executive backed down despite member states failing to relocate a significant number of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

According to the latest figures, 25,438 people have been relocated out of the 160,000 that member states pledged to take in from Greece and Italy - the two main frontline countries.

"There was pressure from several EU countries to resume returns. I understand that governments want to show some results to their voters," Mouzalas said.

In September, German voters will head to the polls for general elections. German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose welcoming policy towards migrants has been criticised, will run for a fourth term in office.

Harsh conditions in Greek reception centres have repeatedly been criticised. Riots have also broken out occasionally because of the bureaucratic delays and poor conditions.

EU to scale back Greek asylum aid

The Greek government is set to take over running services provided by EU-funded NGOs for stranded migrants and asylum seekers in August. The lack of clarity and state plans for the transition is raising alarm.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Roma life expectancy '10 years lower'
  2. US corona death toll passes 200,000
  3. Greece and Turkey agree to resume talks in Istanbul
  4. Seven countries found MidEast energy forum, without Turkey
  5. Four more states join EU medical strategic stockpile
  6. Malta police arrest chief of staff of ex-PM
  7. EP pushing for effective rule-of-law mechanism
  8. France opposes return EU deficit rules after corona

Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact

Michael Spindelegger, the former minister of foreign affairs of Austria and current director of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), reveals some of the proposals in the European Commission's upcoming pact on migration and asylum.

EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece

Over 120 asylum seeking children and teenagers in Greece have so far been relocated to a handful of EU states in a scheme the European Commission says is a demonstration of solidarity. EU states have pledged to take in 2,000.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. EU countries stuck on rule of law-budget link
  2. EU states struggle to better sync Covid-19 measures
  3. EP groups drop homophobe from Sakharov prize
  4. Legal complaint filed with EU Commission over migration
  5. Coronavirus: Will a second wave divide Europe again?
  6. Coronavirus: the Swedish model was worth emulating
  7. Time to fix Europe's broken migration and asylum system
  8. Covid-19: How is Eastern Europe bracing for a second wave?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us