Greece seriously lagging in migration target fulfilment

EPA / ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

An Afghan migrant woman holds her baby aloft during a protest in the former airport of Athens that is used as a refugee camp, in Athens, Greece, 06 February 2017.

Just four of the 23 points of the Joint Action Plan have been completed, with the Commission suggesting that the majority of actions are currently still ongoing.


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Shortly before the European Commission releases its ninth progress report on the EU’s emergency relocation and resettlement, New Europe asked the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm whether the two sides, Greece and the  European Commission, are delivering on their obligations.

On 8 December 2016 both sides committed to the implemention of a specific six-month Joint Action Plan, aside of the European Commission contributing substantially through additional emergency funding to help improve reception conditions on the islands and Greece’s mainland, as the member state had failed to make the progress anticipated.

Maarten Verwey, the EU’s coordinator for the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement, called upon Greece to make additional efforts back in December, in a series of processes outlined in a six-page document, that was endorsed at European Council meeting of 15 December 2016.

Though the document set clear targets for December, the Commission confirmed that the Action Plan’s implementation started in January 2017. A detailed report on progress made is foreseen for spring this year.

For the time being, just four of the 23 points of the Joint Action Plan have been completed, with the Commission suggesting that the majority of actions are currently still ongoing.

Amongst the actions completed, is the deployment of a additional interpreters by EASO with 78 interpreters currently deployed and 21 interpreters confirmed for deployment within the coming weeks, according to the Commission. When the Joint action Plan’s targets were set, EASO was to increase the number of interpreters from 66 at that time, to 100 by mid-January.

Greece’s work in managing the hotspots is not reaching targets either: According to the Commission, the presence of 4 out of 5 permanent coordinators on the islands is now a reality, when all hotspot permanent coordinators were supposed to take up their functions “as soon as possible”. The target was mid-December 2016. On the “Standard Operating Procedures” for the hotspots, the Commission refrained from providing information on this mid-January 2017 target.

As for the Greek Asylum Service, it has increased its staff from 65 to 100 on the islands, reaching the objective set in the Joint Action Plan.

Concerning the asylum application appeals committees, the Greek authorities committed to increasing the number of appeal committees to 20 in February, from 6 when the targets were set. The target for December was 13, but current implementation stands at 12.

The Commission further adds that its Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) is continuing work with the Greek authorities, in order to ensure full and effective use of financial resources in Greece’s National Programmes under Home Affairs Funds of Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Commission’s Internal Security Fund (ISF).

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