As Greece continues to struggle to host thousands of migrants, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday called for a common agreement from all European Union member-states on the implementation of asylum procedures aimed at stopping migrants traveling from one country to another “shopping for asylum status.”
“At the moment the rules are not properly harmonized,” Tajani told reporters. “The rules have to be the same for everybody. Otherwise we will end up with people shopping for asylum status, which undermines our credibility.”
He noted that many refugees who have been accepted in European countries as part of an EU relocation program have continued their journeys to more prosperous nations such as Germany or Sweden.
Latvia welcomed 380 refugees as part of the relocation program but most of those – 313 – have already moved on to Sweden or Germany, according to Agnese Lace from Latvia’s Center for Public Policy.
She said low salaries, a lack of jobs and language barriers meant asylum seekers had little incentive to remain in the country.
Meanwhile Andras Kovats of the Hungarian Association for Migrants said Hungary’s failure to support integration was pushing new arrivals abroad.
In a related development, Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, expressed concern at reports of collective expulsions of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey.
“I urge the Greek authorities to cease immediately the pushback operations and uphold their human rights obligation to ensure that all people reaching Greece can effectively seek and enjoy asylum,” Muiznieks said in a statement.