NEWS

EU leaders agree to step up efforts on migration

At an emergency summit in Brussels on Thursday European Union leaders agreed on a series of measures aimed at addressing the growing flows of migrants to Europe, which have become an increasing challenge for Mediterranean countries like Greece to deal with.

The leaders agreed to step up efforts to clamp down on trafficking rings and to destroy boats used to smuggle migrants to Europe, rather than confiscating them and allowing them to be auctioned off, as this often leads to the vessels ending up in the hands of criminals again.

An action plan drawn up by the European Commission foresees the strengthening of cooperation between the common border, law enforcement and justice agencies – Frontex, Europol and Eurojust.

The 10-point plan put forward at the summit also proposes a pilot scheme for the resettlement of 5,000 refugees. While the number is small in comparison with the flow of migrants to Greece and Italy in particular, Athens is encouraged that the EU is taking a step toward recognizing that the burden of dealing with the immigrants must be shared.

“The tragedy in Lampedusa and the frightening reality of the situation we are confronted with daily in the Aegean underlines the need for the EU to develop effective and humanitarian immigration policies that are based on solidarity, especially for Mediterranean member-states that find themselves on the front line,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said ahead of the meeting.