EU Migration Chief Schinas Wants Relief for Overwhelmed Greece

European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas speaks at the Greek Parliament. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – The European Commissioner in charge of refugee and migrant affairs – Margaritis Schinas from Greece’s ruling New Democracy – told Parliament he wants the bloc to help the country deal with a rekindled surge of arrivals but gave few specifics.

Following another New Democracy veteran in the post, Dimitris Avramopoulos, who did little help during his five-year term, Schinas said he wants the EU to take an “holistic” approach to dealing with refugees and migrants, some 100,000 in Greece.

He said he wants more support for countries such as Greece that are the first arrival point for refugees and migrants and, under EU regulations, can only seek asylum in the initial country where they land.

With other countries reneging on promises to help take some of the overload and Avramopoulos saying he wouldn’t take them to court or force them to help because the matter was too delicate politically, Schinas also didn’t take a hard line.

Instead, he said he wants better border patrols although that approach, even with the aid of the EU border force Frontex, hasn’t worked.

He said also wants those deemed ineligible for asylum to be sent back to Turkey, where they had first gone fleeing war and strife in their countries although only about 2000 of hundreds of thousands arriving in the last five years were deported.

He admitted the EU hadn’t done enough to help Greece and said that the Dublin Regulation allowing asylum only in the first country in which refugees and migrants arrive is “dead” because it hasn’t worked but didn’t say if it would be revoked or replaced.