The European Commission is calling upon Greece to implement a series of actions on refugees and migrants, such as the so-called Dublin Regulation by December. The agreement, currently under review, states that migrants who have traveled to other nations in the EU through Greece be returned to their country of entry.
Steps were outlined for Athens to follow in view of a future resumption of Dublin transfers from other member states. In its adoption of the third recommendation on the specific measures on Wednesday, the European Commission outlined its objective for Greece to gradually resume transfers of asylum seekers. The recommendation notes that despite the difficult situation in Greece, there have been continuous efforts and progress by the Greek authorities, assisted by the Commission, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Member States and international organizations to improve its asylum system since the adoption of the first Recommendation in February and the second recommendation in June.
This progress includes completing a large-scale pre-registration exercise, increasing the overall reception capacity as well as doubling the capacity of the asylum service, establishing new Appeals Committees and legislation on free legal aid and education for school-aged asylum seekers and refugees. However, there is still further progress to be achieved, notably on reception facilities, access to asylum procedures and structures for vulnerable applicants, before a resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece can be considered. A future resumption of transfers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation should also take account of the impact this challenging situation has on the overall functioning of the asylum system, and should therefore start gradually, on a case by case basis. The EC envisages taking stock of the progress made in this regard and issuing further recommendations before the end of the year.
“The implementation of the EU-Turkey statement has continued, and the reduction n attempts to cross the Aegean and in deaths at sea has confirmed its core rationale,” said European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans. “I also welcome the efforts of member states to increase relocation and resettlement. However, those who can do more should do so urgently. We can only effectively manage asylum and migration in Europe and preserve the Schengen area if we all work together in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility.”
“All our measures on migration are interlinked,” said EU Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. “The EU-Turkey Statement has led to concrete positive results. The increased efforts made by Member States over the past months on relocation, with more than 1,200 relocations alone in September, demonstrate that relocation can be speeded up if there is political will and a sense of responsibility. The success of our common approach over the last months is essential for the success of everything else, including a gradual return to the Dublin system and a normal functioning of Schengen. Relocation has to succeed.”
Avramopoulos acknowledged the legal implications of the Dublin Regulation, however, stressed that Greece has already taken a lot of migrants and is at its limit, pointing to the necessity of a transitional period of grace for the country. Due to the deficiencies in Greece’s asylum processing system and the huge influx of refugees and migrants to Greece, Berlin has suspended deportations to Greece for the last five years.