The European Commission on Thursday signed a memorandum outlining a detailed plan agreed by Greek authorities and EU agencies to establish a new, up-to-standard reception center on the island of Lesvos by early September 2021. This is a key step in resolving the situation following the fires that destroyed the Moria camp in September. It is the result of the work of European Taskforce that was created at that time.
“Today’s agreement fulfills our commitment to sustainable solutions. Practical European solidarity with Greece,” said the vice-president of the Εuropean Commission, Margaritis Schinas, on Thursday.
The memorandum sets out the respective responsibilities and areas of cooperation between the Commission, the Greek authorities and the EU agencies. The current agreement concerns EU funding, in addition to the 121 million euros granted to Greece last month for the construction of three smaller centers on the islands of Samos, Kos and Leros, which will also be completed in September 2021.
“With our agreement today, Europe and Greece are working hand in hand for the people on the islands. We will bring decent conditions to migrants and refugees who arrive, as well as supporting the communities on the Greek islands. It is also about fast and fair procedures, so the centers are what they should be – only a temporary stop before either return or integration. Managing migration is a European challenge and today we are putting European solidarity into practice,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson underlined that “this is about people and their basic right to feel safe. This agreement is an important step towards a sustainable solution in Lesvos and in making sure that a situation like Moria can never happen again. It is also an important step in changing how we approach migration management and it paves the way for bringing into practice the guiding principles of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum.”
In September, the Commission announced the setting up of a taskforce to deal with the emergency on Lesvos, based on the principles of the new Migration and Asylum Pact. [ANA-MPA]