As Greece continues its efforts to respond to a seemingly relentless influx of undocumented migrants from neighboring Turkey, European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas has expressed his support for the country’s plan to tackle migration in an interview with Kathimerini, while stressing that the EU needs to do more to overhaul asylum regulations and to increase solidarity among member states.
In a wide-ranging interview that also touched on Greece’s role in the Balkans and its tribulations during the financial crisis, Schinas said the conservative government’s plan to speed up the process of distinguishing refugees meriting international protection from economic migrants was “in the right direction.”
He added that the reinforced European Border and Coast Guard Agency will, in the coming months, contribute to the crackdown, referring to “a new European reality in migration.”
Schinas conceded however that, in the area of migration, the EU “has done a lot but has not done everything.” Although the situation is far improved from the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015, more action needs to be taken, he said, pointing in particular to the need for a “solidarity mechanism” that would more fairly spread the burden from countries on the front line, such as Greece and Italy, to other member states. Changing the Dublin regulations on asylum are a case in point, he said, noting that, to date, Europe has failed in this area. The newly formed European Commission has an opportunity to correct this, he said.
As for Cyprus, whose exclusive economic zone is being consistently violated by Turkey, Schinas noted that the EU would continue to express its objection to any such transgressions.
Schinas also stressed the importance of Greece’s role in the Balkan region, saying its influence has grown over the years and describing it as “the Real Madrid of the Balkans.”