The European Commission on Thursday recommended the gradual resumption of the Dublin regulations, which state that migrants must seek asylum in the European Union member-state they first arrived in.
Deportations to Greece have been suspended since 2011 due to serious shortcomings in the country’s asylum processing system. The EU said that Greece had made significant progress in registering and hosting arriving asylum seekers, and that the system should be gradually restored as of mid-March. The measure would not apply to individuals who have already crossed the Greek borders.
The decision is likely to put pressure on Greece to speed up returns to Turkey and stop asylum seekers moving to Western Europe.
“Asylum seekers need to know that they cannot relocate themselves and that if they do so, they will be sent back,” EU migration chief Dimitris Avramopoulos said in Brussels.
Meanwhile in Greece, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said the government plans to draw up a register of nongovernmental organizations that help migrants and refugees in Greece. NGOs receive and administer a considerable part of the EU’s migrant aid.
Mouzalas added that a big chunk of migration funds from the EU and the central government budget will be passed on to the local municipalities dealing with the pressure.
Mouzalas said that the government planned to recruit extra staff to the country’s asylum and reception system.
“We must make sure that humane… and safe conditions are in place, for them as well as for us, in a region that is evidently volatile and insecure,” he said.
Despite difficult weather conditions, a total of 70 individuals arrived Thursday on the eastern Aegean islands, most of them on Chios.