Commission latest reports on the refugee crisis and "returns" to Turkey
- Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland face infringement proceedings
- Greece: Arrivals outpace returns to Turkey
- Next steps - dodgy figures or wishful thinking?
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On 13 June the Commission published its 13th report on responding to the refugee crisis: European Agenda on Migration: Commission calls on all parties to sustain progress and make further efforts (Press release, pdf):
"Ahead of next week's European Council, the Commission is presenting four progress reports on measures taken under the European Agenda on Migration to stabilise the flows and better manage the external borders."
Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland face infringement proceedings
The Commission notes that "most Member States [have] shown that relocation works if there is political will" and announces that three Member States now face infringement procedures:
"Over the last months, the Commission has repeatedly called on those Member States that have not yet relocated a single person, or that are not pledging to relocate, to do so. Regrettably, despite these repeated calls, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, in breach of their legal obligations stemming from the Council Decisions and their commitments to Greece, Italy and other Member States, have not yet taken the necessary action. Against this background, and as indicated in the previous Relocation and Resettlement Report, the Commission has decided to launch infringement procedures against these three Member States."
Even Member States who have relocated people many have shown a very low "political will". For example, Belgium has relocated 623 out of a commitments of 3,812 and Slovakia 16 out of 902.
On the infringement proceedings, see: Relocation: Commission launches infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (press release, pdf) and: EU opens legal case against Warsaw, Budapest and Prague over migration (Reuters, link)
Greece: Arrivals outpace returns to Turkey
The Commission says that the daily crossing from Turkey to Greece "remains at around 50 per day" and although 1,798 people have been returned since March 2016:
"arrivals still outpace the number of returns from the Greek islands to Turkey, leading to pressure on the reception structure on the islands." [emphasis added]
See: Returns to Turkey: Operational implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (pdf)
Relocations within the EU still remain pitifully low compared to commitments: 20,869 refugees have bean relocated, 13,973 from Italy and 6,896 from Greece. This is out of a total of 98,255 agreed. See: Annex 3 (pdf)
Next steps - dodgy figures or wishful thinking?
According to the Commission:
"With almost all Member States now relocating from Italy and Greece, it is feasible to relocate all those eligible (currently around 11,000 registered in Greece and around 2,000 registered in Italy, with arrivals in 2016 and 2017 still to be registered) by September 2017. In any case, Member States' legal obligation to relocate will not cease after September: the Council Decisions on relocation apply to all persons arriving in Greece or Italy until 26 September 2017 and eligible applicants must be relocated within a reasonable timeframe thereafter." [emphasis added]
These figures are at the same time deceptive and wishful thinking. See: Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met
And: Is the refugee crisis going to disappear? Is the Council Presidency playing a cynical numbers game with the figures - or are we going to see mass returns?
There are currently 62,258 refugees in Greece The Commission says that 20,000 refugees in Greece are deemed eligible for relocation but there are 14,110 refugees on the Greek Islands, 28,148 on the mainland unaccounted for and more still arriving: See. Ministry figures (Updated, pdf)
In a Footnote (3) the Commission says:
"In order to further help the Greek authorities in planning and delivery of additional support, the Commission also invites the Greek authorities to clarify the total number of migrants present on the mainland and the islands." [emphasis added]
The official Greek government figures are given above and Statewatch regularly publishes them...
Thirteenth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 330-17,pdf)
Annex 1: Greece (pdf)
Annex 2: Italy (pdf)
Annex 3: Italy-Greece (pdf)
Annex 4: Resettlement (pdf)
6th Report on the Progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (COM 323-17,pdf)
Annex 1: Joint Action Plan (pdf)
Returns to Turkey: Operational implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (pdf)
Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
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