S&Ds: It's time for a truly common European asylum system and greater solidarity

The European Parliament has shown the way for the next Commission migration agenda.

S&D Euro MPs call on member states to honour their commitments and speed up relocation of refugees, particularly of children, during a visit to refugee camps in Greece. S&D MEPs Tanja Fajon, Péter Niedermüller and Elly Schlein went on a mission to Greece from 21 to 24 May, as part of the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee, to evaluate the situation in the refugee camps (in view of the EU-Turkey statement) and discuss with Greek national authorities about the ongoing problems with relocation.

 

The Euro MPs visited a reception facility in Schisto, Athens, a pre-departure centre and hotspot Pyli on the island of Kos, shelters and the hotspot in Moria on the island of Lesvos. During their visit they met with the Greek Alternate Minister of Immigration Policy, Ioannis Mouzalas, community leaders and NGOs who provided them with insight into the challenges on the ground.

 

S&D vice-president Tanja Fajon MEP said:

"During our visit we witnessed the dramatic situation of thousands of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants suffering dire conditions. The situation remains grave, despite efforts of the Greek authorities to address the situation. I was impressed by the facility in Kara Tepe on the island of Lesvos which hosts principally vulnerable persons, women and children.

"However, this is not only a Greek issue, it is a European one. Member states must act immediately and show much greater solidarity by complying with their legal obligations and prioritising the relocation of children without family and of other vulnerable applicants. Additional efforts should be made to guarantee respect of fundamental rights, promotion of civil rights, provision of medical and health services, as well as fostering of family reunification."

 

S&D Group treasurer Péter Niedermüller MEP said:

"Relocation of refugees is taking far too long resulting in thousands of migrants and refugees being stuck in grave conditions hopeless and insecure about their futures. Likewise, much needed experts and support to the country are yet to arrive.

"In spite of progress made there still exist huge problems, notably the lack of proper facilities. Hotspots and reception facilities are crowded. More financial support and more staff are needed to cope with the difficulties. It is urgent that member states show greater solidarity."

 

S&D negotiator on the Dublin Agreement Elly Schlein MEP added:

"Member States are slowing down the family reunification procedures resulting in many people including minors being stuck for months in limbo in the island. Relocation processes are sluggish with most countries still lagging far behind their targets. It is unacceptable that thus far two member states are not participating, whereas four have only been relocating on a very limited basis.

"It is time that member states honour their commitments. We want to see a truly common European asylum system that overcomes the first country of entry criterion towards a truly centralised system of fair sharing of responsibility among all member states taking place without further due."


Note to editors

Member states have committed themselves to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece by the end of September 2017. However, so far only 18,000 have actually been relocated, namely only 11% of those originally agreed.

According to UNHCR data, 50,000 asylum-seekers approximately are waiting in Greece to be relocated by September 2017 to other member states where their applications would be processed.