NEWS

Greece among nine nations seeking more active role in curbing illegal migration

Greece and another eight European Union countries which have borne the brunt of illegal immigration due to their location on the bloc’s external borders are seeking a more active role by the EU in tackling the flow of undocumented migrants into their countries, according to amendments to the draft conclusions of an EU leaders’ summit that starts in Brussels on Thursday.

According to EU sources, the core of the proposal – by Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary – will be accepted by EU leaders at the conclusion of the summit.

Such an outcome would be the first positive response from Brussels to efforts by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to elicit a more supportive EU role in tackling illegal immigration.

In their joint proposal, the nine countries herald the creation of a task force to propose initiatives for dealing with the problem more effectively. They also press for closer cooperation of the EU’s border-monitoring agency Frontex with countries struggling to deal with migration flows.

Samaras and his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy reportedly discussed the problem of illegal immigration by telephone on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s summit.

The influx of illegal immigrants into Greece via its land borders has dropped dramatically over the past year due to the intensified presence of Frontex at key points of illegal entry. However, migrants continue to flow into Greece via the Aegean. A new migrant reception center which opened on Lesvos at the end of last month has reportedly brought some order to the eastern Aegean island, which had struggled to accommodate hundreds of foreign arrivals.