تشرين الأول 27, 2015
The European Commission announced €5.9 million in emergency funding for Greece yesterday, a day after a mini-summit in Brussels agreed on a 17-point plan to deal with the refugee crisis unfolding in the Balkans.
The new financing for Greece will be taken from the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). As well as helping Greece implement EU “hotspots” in the area, the money will also cover transporting at least 60,000 refugees from the islands to mainland Greece over the next four months.
However, the EU warned that the assistance will be limited to those who have been properly screened and fingerprinted. Greece has received most of the refugees and migrants entering the EU, according to Frontex.
A number of EU member states criticised Greece’s handling of the crisis during Sunday’s mini-summit in Brussels, stressing that all refugees should be properly registered in the country where they first arrive. But the sheer numbers of refugees to Greece via the Aegean Sea has left Greek authorities floundering, with prime minister Alexis Tsipras questioning why Turkey was not present at Sunday’s meeting, given that is the main transit country for refugees arriving to the EU.
Leaders of a group of central and eastern EU countries, along with the prime ministers of Albania, Serbia and Macedonia, agreed late on Sunday on a number of measures to help tackle the refugee crisis, which has seen more than 700,000 people arrive in the EU this year.
The European Commission has pledged to create 100,000 additional new spaces at reception centres in frontline countries with the help of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, including 50,000 in Greece. In addition 400 police officers are to be sent to Slovania within the next week.
In exchange, countries promised to discourage the movement of refugees or migrants to other country’s borders. A joint statement after the meeting said: “A policy of waving through refugees without informing neighbouring countries is not acceptable.”
Tensions have been rising between EU member states amid suspicions that some front-line countries are allowing people to pass through to other member states without registering them, as required under the Dublin convention.
Slovenia has found itself at the epicentre of the refugee crisis in recent weeks as Hungary has closed its border with Serbia, forcing thousands of refugees to re-route over the Croatian-Slovenian border.
Up to 60,000 refugees are estimated to have arrived in the country of two million people within the last week alone.
Under the agreement reached late on Sunday, “contact points” will also be established between countries to facilitate the exchange of information on a daily basis.
The political groups in the European Parliament gave a cautious welcome to the plan. Manfred Weber, head of the centre-right EPP group, said that while the concrete proposals were positive, implementation was essential.
“It cannot remain on paper only. Order must be restored on the Balkans route and refugee flows must be channelled”, he said.