EU migrant plan ‘window’ for treaty revision

Commissioner says Dublin II, which burdens Greece, could be amended

European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos on Friday hailed a European plan aimed at distributing immigrants and refugees across EU member-states in a way that spreads the burden while tackling a humanitarian problem.

In a speech at a seminar organized by the European Parliament’s Athens office, Avramopoulos said the proposals set out in the so-called “European Agenda for Migration” represented “a window of opportunity for the revision of the Dublin II,” referring to a European treaty that obliges immigrants to apply for asylum in the first EU member-state they enter.

The commissioner indicated that the treaty, which foresees the return of asylum seekers to the country of entry, may be subject to revision. “Obviously there will be reactions and disagreements, there already have been,” he said. “But there has been a first step.”

As regards financial aid for countries on the southeastern flank of the EU, which bear the brunt of arrivals of undocumented immigrants, Avramopoulos indicated that member-states must qualify for funding. “Europe is not a bank,” he said. “Countries must assume their responsibilities before receiving aid.”

He indicated, however, that Greece’s Interior Ministry has done a good job. “There has been progress in this area over the past months,” he said. He said a task force of EU officials would soon be dispatched to Lesvos to help register migrants. Two such teams are already operating on Sicily.