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30/09/2016

Commission accepts that Germany sends migrants back to Greece

Justice & Home Affairs

Commission accepts that Germany sends migrants back to Greece

Migrants resting in Nea Vyssa, a Greek village at the border with Turkey, a few kilometres from Bulgaria.

[Frontex]

Asked to comment on reports that Germany is considering sending back migrants to Greece, the Commission saw no contradiction with its own plan that migrants in Greece should be relocated to other countries of the Union.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière was quoted as saying on 4 September his country had done a lot to help refugees, but needed help from the rest of the bloc to take in migrants.

“We have done a lot in Europe in order to improve the refugee situation in Greece,” de Maizière told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to the Dublin regulations.”

Germany has not sent migrants back to Greece since 2011 due to deficiencies in the Greek asylum processing system and the fact that the country is struggling to cope with the number of refugees already in Greece. There are currently 50,000 migrants in Greece who are waiting to be sent on to other EU countries.

EurActiv.com asked yesterday (5 September) Commission spokesperson Natasha Bertaud  to comment how a possible return to refugees from Germany to Greece could be compatible with the Commission’s plan to alleviate the burden on Greece by relocating asylum-seekers to other EU countries.

Bertaud said everyone should abide by the rules, and that before Dublin is reformed, the returns to the country from where the asylum-seekers first crossed into the rest of the EU should apply. She added that the Commission was helping Greece to return to the standards of Dublin by the end of the year, and that a progress report on this effort would be published at the end of this month.

Greece has asked the EU to do more on relocation and reportedly has no plans to receive back asylum-seekers from wealthier EU nations – all the more so since relocation has not so far delivered the numbers promised.

Greece asks EU to do more on migrant relocation

Greece has asked the European Union to speed up the relocation to other member states of migrants and refugees in the country under a plan agreed last year to ease pressure on frontline countries Greece and Italy.

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is also expected to raise the issue of refugees during a summit of Mediterranean leaders in Athens on 9 September. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi is expected to attend along with French President François Hollande though Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy will be absent due to political upheaval in his country.

Hollande tries to bring together Europe’s South

At a meeting of socialist leaders yesterday (25 August), French President François Hollande pleaded against the rise of populism. He also announced his participation in another summit of the EU’s southern countries in Athens, on 9 September. EurActiv France reports.

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Speaking about possible relocation of refugees to his country, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov recently said he had no intention to accept them.

Upon his return from a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Visegrad Four, Borissov said on 28 August: “I said categorically to my [EU] colleagues that we will not take back migrants. Does somebody believe that Austria, or Hungary, or Germany, will send us 10, 20 or 30,000 migrants, and that I will be waiting them at the airport?”