Less than half of migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected are deported, according to new statistics from EU border agency Frontex.
Forty-three percent of rejected asylum seekers are deported out of the EU, and Greek authorities have acted too slowly and are to blame for the low number of migrants currently being returned to Turkey, Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri said today (5 January) during a visit to Bavaria.
Leggeri said he expected there to be 500 refugees brought every day from Greece to Turkey under an agreement with the EU that was cemented in March 2016 to choke off the number of asylum seekers who travel to Greece with the help of illegal smugglers. But European Commission data published last month revealed that authorities have only managed to send back a fraction of that. A total of 748 migrants were sent to Turkey from the Greek islands according to 8 December statistics from the EU executive.
While Greece has been slow to determine whether migrants are eligible for asylum and arrange for rejected applicants to be sent to Turkey, Leggeri praised Turkey for holding up its end of the agreement to slash illegal migration routes to the EU.
Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said that the EU had learned its lessons from last year’s refugee crisis and that the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency would be a “game changer” in securing the Union’s external borders.
Leggeri was speaking at a meeting of the Bavarian centre-right CSU, the sister party of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. CSU leaders have frequently caused headaches for Merkel over the last year with their demands for a strict cap on the number of refugees that can be accepted in Germany. Merkel has so far rejected those demands.
EU Security Commissioner Julian King and Manfred Weber, the head of the centre-right EPP group in the European Parliament, also spoke at the party meeting. In a statement ahead of the meeting, Weber called for more cooperation between national intelligence agencies in different EU countries.
Germany is still reeling from the 19 December terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. Suspected attacker Anis Amri had his asylum application rejected by German immigration officials, but was not deported. German media reported today that Amri was able to slip past police after the attack and travel through several EU countries before he was shot dead during a confrontation with police outside Milan on 23 December.
A new EU regulation gave Frontex beefed up powers to police borders last October, along with a bigger budget. The rule also set up the first EU coast guard, which Leggeri called a “game changer”.