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Migration – EC’s infringement procedure against five EU countries

Several media outlets report that the European Commission on Thursday started an infringement procedure against Greece, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Hungary for having failed to implement the Eurodac regulation on migrants’ fingerprints, as said for instance in Avvenire and Greek media. Eurodac rules establish that irregular migrants and asylum-seekers must be fingerprinted within 72 hours, and that data must be inserted into a European database. Therefore, Brussels urged Rome to implement technical improvements to match data of fingerprinted migrants with those who illegally cross borders and who seek asylum, Il Messagero reports. Sandro Gozi, Undersecretary of State responsible for European Affairs and Policies, argued that Italy did better than many other countries while Matteo Renzi criticised the EU for not doing all it could to tackle the refugee crisis, adds Avvenire. Novinky.cz notes that Hungary rejected criticism, with the Government’s Chief of Staff János Lázár saying that it was an “act of revenge”.

Some statements of Commissioners are released. EC Vice-President and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini called on the European countries to overcome their differences to address the refugee crisis, as she said in an interview granted to Ta Nea. According to Ms Mogherini, the EU will start cooperating with Turkey to control the Greek-Turkish borders. “On Monday we start consultations with Turkey to build our cooperation not only on the management of the refugee flows, but also on the tackling of terrorism and border control”, she said. She also highlighted the need to establish a European intelligence service, speaking of new EU tools that will allow the EU institutions to better respond to security issues. As to Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides, he stated yesterday that the EU is ready to disburse another €13 million in financial aid for the support of refugees who are in FYROM and Serbia, Haravgi and xinhuanet.com report.

Attention is also mainly focused on Brussels’s migration policy, The FT, The WSJE, and Il Sole 24 Ore, among others, report that the European Commission is to present on Tuesday a bill to form a new European agency of border and coast guards in order to reinforce its external borders. EC President Jean-Claude Juncker wants to act against the growing dismay within the EU on countries that cannot manage to sufficiently guard their external borders, notes De Standaard. The mechanism will allow EU member states to help a troubled partner to ensure European outer borders are protected, respecting the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and responsibility. The new agency would replace Frontex, says Il Sole 24 Ore, while The WSJE notes, on the contrary, that Frontex’s powers would become strengthened. It would also have to take measures and to send officials to cooperate with national authorities when the surveillance of outer borders is insufficient, further notes that Italian newspaper.

In other related news, Les Echos’ Catherine Chatignoux, for instance, reports on the latest Eurostat data, published yesterday, saying that more than 410,000 migrants applied for asylum in Europe during the third quarter of 2015, twice as many as during the second quarter. More than half (58%) of the asylum seekers came from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Germany and Hungary received the most applications (26% each). Migrants mostly file their application in the country where they want to settle, which explains why Greece and Italy, where most of the migrants arrived, registered a relatively low number of applications. We are still nowhere near the fair sharing of refugees promoted by the European Commission, stresses Ms Chatignoux.

Most of today’s commentaries express criticism of the European policy. UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk said, in an interview with France Inter, that the measures taken by the EU to cope with the refugee influx are “out of touch with reality,” “too slow and not collective enough.” German Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s opinion is released in Naftemporiki. Along the same lines, he sounded the alarm about a possible dissolution of the EU, if the Union fails to face the refugee crisis united. “Either Europe stands together and acts with solidarity in times of hardship for hundreds of thousands, or fences and barriers will again be raised, and then the vision of a united Europe crumbles”, Mr Steinmeier pointed out while addressing the Social Democrats Party (SPD) congress. In a more nuanced tone, Humanist Professor Leonidas Donskis points out that we should not panic about the situation because Europe has integrated bigger flows of people, reports Kauno Diena.

 

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