quarta-feira, 16 de março de 2016
EU needs Greek action to save Turkey refugee deal / Mogherini warns of new migrant flows from Libya and Iraq
EU needs Greek action to save Turkey refugee deal
Greece must ensure its refugee ‘hotspots’ don’t ruin the EU-Turkey migration deal.
By FLORIAN EDER 3/15/16, 7:59 PM CET
The European Commission wants Greece to drastically speed up the processing of asylum requests to a week, rather than months, to avoid scuppering a potential deal with Turkey to slow down the inflow of refugees.
Brussels is already struggling to secure unanimous support at an EU summit this week for the agreement, which is backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel but has met objections from at least six member countries, with stiff opposition from Cyprus.
Greece will play a crucial role in the refugee deal, being tasked with sending back to Turkey those migrants who illegally arrive on the Greek islands. In return, EU countries are supposed to agree to relocate an equivalent number of Syrian asylum seekers who are in Turkey, and the Turkish government will receive €6 billion of EU aid to help deal with the humanitarian crisis.
However, underlining its concerns about Athens’ ability to perform that role, the Commission is putting pressure on Greece to boost the capacity of its asylum service “in order to process a high number of asylum applications within a short period of time.”
Couched as legal advice, that was the gist of a Commission document for Greek and Turkish authorities being prepared for the summit, of which POLITICO obtained a copy. Given the Greek government’s poor track record on processing refugees, the document repeatedly stressed the need for acting “swiftly,” “in a short space of time” and “within a short period of time.”
That means Greece should no longer take months to process an asylum request, but “about one week,” said one EU diplomat familiar with the plans.
As well as accelerating its bureaucracy, Greece needs to set up one-stop shops that can accept or reject asylum requests and go through the requisite legal appeals process, from the first instance to the final court appeal, “within a short period of time.”
A Syrian girl looks through the window of a bus where she has lived with her family for the eight months at a refugee camp in Bab al-Salama, on the Syria-Turkey border
The EU-Turkey agreement will pledge to respect the legal and human rights of migrants and refugees and a discussion paper for the summit prepared by European Council President Donald Tusk’s office, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, says that all migrants being returned to Turkey will be “protected in accordance with international standards.”
However, Greece has been suspended from parts of European asylum agreements since 2011 because of the poor conditions in its asylum shelters. It takes longer than almost any other EU country to process them legally, and it has been criticized by the EU repeatedly for delays in setting up so-called “hotspots” to register incoming refugees.
The Commission tells Greece, in the paperwork prepared for the summit, that it must ensure the “logistics and workflows” of these hotspots are efficient enough to stop migrants who are to be shipped back to Turkey leaving the registration centers: It must ensure there are necessary “reception capacities … including closed detention.”
The hope is to dissuade would-be migrants from giving people-smugglers money to ferry them into Europe in the first place.
Jacopo Barigazzi contributed to this article.