In a meeting with European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos at the shipping ministry on Tuesday, the Greek government asked for an immediate disbursement of EU funds to help cope with increased migration flows.
The ministers at the interministerial meeting also asked for the immediate activation of a refugee relocation programme and the reinforcement of rescue equipment and resources for reception, identificiation and asylum.
Avramopoulos announced after the meeting that he will ask for the activation of the emergency mechanism allowing asylum seekers to be transferred from frontline countries to the rest of the EU in a proposal to be submitted to the European Commission on Wednesday.”The fact that this is happening for the first time in the history of the EU is a real change in the way the EU deals with migration,” Avramopoulos said. The relocation will be carried out fairly, based on the criteria of a distribution system already announced, he added.
He said the emergency mechanism will chiefly relieve frontline countries, especially Greece and Italy, which currently faced the highest pressures from migration in Europe, but will also be activated for other European countries that will face emergency situations in the future.
A press release from the office of Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou said that Avramopoulos promised to support direct aid through emergency funding for frontline countries like Greece and supported a mechanism for international relocation and sharing of the responsibility for refugees between the EU member-states. The Commissioner also announced the reinforcement of operations in the Mediterranean, specifically Triton and Poseidon.
According to sources, the discussion on this issue at the European Commission is expected to be concluded on June 15 and after activation will lead to the relocation of some 40,000 asylum seekers in Greece and Italy to other EU countries over the next two years.
Christodoulopoulou referred to “insuperable difficulties” in the handling of migration due to the intensity of migration flows and a “gap” in EU funds for which Greece was not to blame.
Tuesday’s meeting also focused on the government programmes for asylum, migration, integration and home security, analysing any deficiencies and weaknesses and examining proposals on all operational plans.
The meeting on migration and the refugees issue was called by Interior and Administrative Reconstruction Minister Nikos Voutsis. Apart from Avramopoulos and Christodoulopoulou, it was attended by Alternate Minister for Shipping Thodoris Dritsas and Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Yiannis Panoussis as well as Chief of Police Dimitris Tsaknakis and the head of the Coast Guard Athanasios Athanasopoulos.