Commissioner slams EU official over call to halt refugee quotas

Commissioner slams EU official over call to halt refugee quotas

As pressure continues to build on the Aegean islands with ever more undocumented migrants arriving from neighboring Turkey, European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday slammed a proposal by European Council President Donald Tusk for the abolition of mandatory quotas on relocating asylum seekers across the EU. 

Speaking in Strasbourg, Avramopoulos described Tusk’s proposals as “unacceptable” and “anti-European.”

“It denies, it ignores, all the work that we have done during the past three years,” he said, adding that Tusk’s proposal also undermines “one of the main pillars of the European project, the principal of solidarity.”

Speaking ahead of a scheduled European Union leaders’ summit on migration on Thursday, the commissioner said that “solidarity cannot be cherry-picked.”

The row came as Greek authorities struggle to ease the pressure on overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands and to improve living conditions in preparation for the onset of worsening weather. 

Since mid-October, 5,701 migrants have been transferred from the Aegean islands to state facilities on the mainland. Of those, 3,589 were moved from Lesvos, where hundreds of migrants have been living in tents outside the Moria camp.

Authorities on Lesvos lifted a blockade on the delivery of 50 shipping container homes destined for the Moria camp early on Tuesday.

The prefabricated units had been on a ferry at the port of Mytilene since Monday morning, when the municipal authority ordered its garbage truck drivers to form a blockade that prevented the government-chartered ship from offloading its cargo. 

The move came after the government reassured Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos that the units would not be used to create a new camp on the island, but only to accommodate refugees currently living in tents.