Athens vows to push for integrated migration policy

  

Aware that some European countries do not view a common migration policy as an immediate priority, Greece is making a point to push for a single asylum system and a more coordinated management of illegal migration flows into Europe during its six-month EU presidency. EurActiv reports from Athens.

“Without safety and security we cannot have an economic recovery,” Nikolaos-Georgios Dendias, Greek minister of public order and citizen protection, told reporters in Athens.

In recent months, hundreds of people have died trying to reach European shores. Last October, 356 African immigrants drowned when their boat capsized shortly before reaching the Italian island of Lampedusa, near Sicily.

Greek officials are quick to point out that the issue is not only humanitarian. It is also an economic and political problem in the run-up to the European elections in May, which is already seeing far-right parties setting up an anti-immigration platform for their electoral campaigns.

Border management

Greece intends not only to find ways to mitigate the impact of new migratory flows coming from troubled areas of Africa and the Middle East, notably Syria, Libya and Somalia, but also pave the way for more legal migration, which would benefit the economic recovery.

Measures for fighting irregular migration focus on readmission, fighting smuggling and the trafficking of human beings, as well as capacity building for border management.

“We need a more integrated and effective management of the borders,” said Dendias. But effective, means more funding.

Frontex, the EU's border management agency, had a budget of almost €86 million in 2013. However, the agency is currently dependent on member states’ contribution and support. That means it does not have its own technical equipment, it just borrows what is made available by the EU's 28 member states.

Nonetheless, Greece, which is the main point of entry for over 50% of recorded illegal immigrants, has beefed up, security measures since 2012 with the help of Frontex, especially along the border of Turkey, reducing the number of illegal refugees entering the country.

“There is a genuine concern regarding the exact role of the agency [Frontex], its activity and whether it is under control”, said Angeliki Dimitriadis, a researcher at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).  

Dimitriadis argued that the agency had evolved rapidly and had evolved  capacity building, readmissions, border supervisions and joint operations with third countries.

“It places too much emphasis on deterrence and despite having incorporated the Charter of Fundamental Rights, it does not accept that any human rights violations in the area of operation are its own responsibility, claiming it is instead the responsibility of member states,” she added.

Dublin regulation under attack

Now more than ever, the EU needs to come up with clear guidelines that would be dictated by solidarity, added the Greek minister, stressing a deadline for the June European Council, after the EU elections.

Unhappy with the recast of the Dublin regulation on migration coming into force in July 2015, Greece, which voted against it, intends to initiate a debate on equally sharing the burden of new migratory flows across the 28-country bloc.

According to the regulation, immigrants can seek asylum only in the country of entry in the EU and that country must process the applications of asylum seekers.

Greece and other Southern countries – Italy, Malta and Spain - complain that because of their geographical position they are the ones that need to process thousands of asylum applications.

“You have to explain why a country of 10 million has to deal alone with 1.5 million refugees,” Evangelos Venizelos, Greece’s foreign minister, told reporters.

According to Dimitriadis, even if arrivals to Greece stopped tomorrow, inflows would increase at other points in the EU.

“Europe is delaying the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive migration policy, but the most important problem is that it remains divided between the need to respect human rights and the need to reduce the number of persons irregularly entering its territory,” argued Dimitriadis, adding that the controversy remained evident in the policies being adopted.

Timeline: 
  • 1 Jan.-30 June 2014: Greek Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers
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Comments

international foundation for research and innovation  's picture

In order to solve those problems World Wild countries must do the following thing
1) Teach from Hig school ,college Universities how people can get jobs in Canada ,Australia ,USA ,Japan EU ,without having to travel to this country
2) Create a specific digital platform though what world wild people can get cash money prommoting economic and tourist interest from certain countries
3) Present a special concept project which can help countries which have high rate migration to get billions euros
4) Teach those most multicultural countries how they can use this advantages and get billions of euros

IF YOU ARE GOING TO IMPLEMENT JUST THOSE 4 PROJECTS WE WILL NEVER CONSIDER MIGRANTION AS A PROBLEM BUT AS A GREAT SOURCE TO GET BILLIONS EURO

A Londoner's picture

I agree that Greece's position is very difficult but I cannot it see it changing. The only way to reduce the numbers is to abolish the right to asylum. People would only have the right to temporary protection from wars and civil conflict and then only in the nearest safe country

The present UK position is hypocritical - we maintain we are protecting the right to asylum but then do as much as we can to stop people claiming it. Better to spend the money on refugee camps rather than on the favoured few whose applications succeed and their legal aid funded lawyers.

Gerry's picture

Australia has begun to use their navy to push intercepted boats back into Indonesian waters, but is there really a need to go this far? If someone is an economic migrant they have to apply for a via in the country of origin, and wait for their turn to enter legally. If they are political refugees they can be offered refugee-status, but if they are illegal economic migrants they should simply be repatriated. It just come down to assessing their situation correctly and then apply the rules. This 'free for all' approach Europe had at present will just lead to more panic, more chaos and more drownings.

evad666's picture

Athens vows to push for integrated migration policy.
I was under the impression the EU policy was to push all migrants into the UK.