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EU Home Affairs Ministers agree to grant Frontex a more prominent role

Today’s European press continues to report and comment on the migration crisis and both the EU’s and Germany’s policies to deal with it.The Guardian and other media report that EU interior ministers met in Luxembourg yesterday to discuss the ongoing refugee crisis and agreed on tentative steps towards common immigration policies, opening talks on surrendering national control of borders to new EU authorities and calling for more and quicker deportations of refugees who have been refused asylum.

The first move in a system of EU quotas for sharing 160,000 refugees takes place today when 20 Eritreans are to be flown from Rome to Sweden under the scheme, a development described by Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos as historic. Jyllands-Posten and The WSJE, for instance, provide more details, by saying that the EU ministers agreed to allocate more money and staff for the bloc’s border agency, Frontex, and agreed to send about 100 more asylum experts and translators to EU-funded and staffed reception centres.

Le Figaro says that the EU wants to create a European border control system to take control of the Greco-Turkish border, which has become Schengen’s Achilles heel. “We are at a cross-road. Either we decide that Schengen’s external border controls stay a national competence or we decide that it requires shared responsibility,” underlined Commissioner Avramopoulos. Luxembourg’s chief diplomat, Jean Asselborn, also quoted by Le Figaro, stressed that “it’s not a question of putting Greece under guardianship, but if we cannot make border controls more efficient, Schengen might not survive.”

The Greek press notes that the Migration Commissioner also announced the relocation of 40,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to Sweden. Publico adds that Asselborn and Commissioner Avramopoulos travel to Italy and Greece today to try and convince the Greek government to help solve this problem and to assess the progress of the registration centres.

ABC and, among others, report some statements made yesterday by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, who conceded that the“refugee crisis will still last for several years,” underlining that the EU continues scrambling to find an effective means to cope with Syrian refugees. Along the same lines, Efimerida Ton Sintakton notes that Vice-President and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Federica Mogherini stated that the EU is uniting its powers in order to address an issue that will be very difficult to resolve. In an interview granted to Bloomberg radio, EcoFin Commissioner Moscovici stressed that, in the medium-term, refugees “can be an asset for us. If we are capable of leading public policies in order to integrate those people, who will produce, who will work, who will be consumers in Europe”

He added that, in the long-term, refugees can be integrated and productive. Commissioner Christos Stylianides is quoted in the Cypriot press, underlining that to solve the refugee crisis, “we need to tackle the root causes of forced displacements inside Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to continue supporting neighbouring countries that are already hosting large numbers of refugees. It is our collective responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people – wherever they are, wherever they come from and wherever they are going,” he further said.

Several critical comments are released. In Der Standard’s editorial, Thomas Mayer highlights that it is difficult to discern how the new migration and asylum policy is to be realised while simultaneously securing the external borders of the EU in a credible way. In order to deport “unwarranted” refugees again, agreements with the corresponding countries of origin will be needed. In a Jutarnji list opinion piece, MEP Andrej Plenković believes that the migration crisis in only week revealed all government’s diplomatic weaknesses, especially for failing to properly coordinate the migration tide with the neighbouring countries. All of the occurred with Slovenia, Hungary and Serbia stirred a lot of incredulity and dissatisfaction in EU institutions, he adds.

In an interview with Diário Económico, Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Regional Refugee Coordinator for Europe, considers that Europe cannot keep sporadically replying to the developments of this emergency situation, there must be a common strategy, he stresses Pravda daily’s editorialist Peter Javůrek suggests that if Europe wants to show solidarity and act according to its values, it has to do so with the awareness that its capacity and sources are limited. He also argues that the EU strongly underestimated the problem, because of which there are now hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants on its territory. In a more critical tone, Wolfgang Böhm points out, in Die Presse’s editorial, Europe’s “hypocritical” relationship with Turkey in dealing with the refugee crisis. Brussels needs Ankara’s help, which is why the European Commission has until further notice delayed an inconvenient progress report about the EU candidate status of Turkey.

In news more focused on German policy, Professor Ernst Elitz considers, in a commentary for Bild Zeitung, that Ms Merkel´s iconic statement that “we will succeed” in the refugee crisis is no longer enough. In the current state of affairs, anyone who does not seriously doubt whether Germany can conquer the crisis if it continues on its current path is blind to reality, he claims. Along the same lines, Robert Rossmann argues in Süddeutsche Zeitung that Ms Merkel is Europe’s most powerful woman, yet powerless in the migration crisis – and that she cannot publically admit the latter.

© europeanunion2015


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