NEWS

Some EU help for migrant problem

European interior and justice ministers meeting in Stockholm yesterday agreed to boost funding for Greece and other member states guarding the EU’s external border and called on Turkey, as an EU candidate state, to cooperate with the bloc’s efforts to curb illegal immigration. Notwithstanding the common criticism of Ankara’s stance and the pledge to increase funding, with an initial tranche of 12 million euros earmarked for Greece, the summit reached some discouraging conclusions. The revision of the Dublin Regulation, which stipulates that migrants apply for asylum in the first EU member state they enter and has resulted in disproportionate pressure on Greece and other southern EU states, will not be considered until 2014. The decision to postpone tweaking the regulation, which has been the subject of widespread criticism, has driven a wedge between southern and northern EU member states. However, EU ministers were virtually unanimous in their support for boosting funding for overburdened member states on the EU’s external border. The European Commission’s Vice President and Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot reportedly agreed to extend the European Refugee Fund to apply to all incoming migrants, not just those meriting asylum. As a result, several million euros in aid will be set aside for Greece and other Mediterranean states to spend on additional reception centers, food and medical supplies and social support for migrants. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlo-poulos took the opportunity to stress to his EU counterparts that guarding the bloc’s borders was an EU affair, not a purely Greek problem and to demand the cooperation of Turkey as a key transit state. «If Turkey fails to take action it becomes a haven for traffickers and a gathering point for illegal immigrants,» Pavlopoulos said.