ATHENS - "Dublin is dead," European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said on Thursday, during a briefing of Greek parliamentary committees on the plans for a new EU pact for migration and asylum, noting that Europe cannot live in "conditions of zero migration".
Schinas, who is in charge of the 'European Way of Life' portfolio in the new European Commission, predicted that a solution on a common European policy on migration and refugees will be reached by the end of 2020, during the German presidency, while he also highlighted the increasingly significant role of the new European border and coast guard, which will have its own resources and staff.
Replying to MPs questions on the management of migration flows up until now, he said that he was talking of a "new, cohesive asylum system" to replace the "permanently dead" Dublin treaty, noting that "we could perhaps call it the Lesbos or Lampedusa treaty but we must leave 'Dublin' behind."
Schinas agreed on the need for an initial assessment to separate those likely to qualify for asylum and those who are certain not to qualify at the external borders, with the first group distributed so that the burden was not carried exclusively by the countries of first reception.
He also noted that, despite its imperfections, Greece would have been unable to handle the migration and refugee crisis without a European framework.
"We are condemned by history, geography and the nature of our political and social system to handle the refugee crisis in a European framework. Anything else is cheap populism," Schinas said.
The new European agreement on migration, he said, must ensure strong external borders that are able to support free movement under Schengen rules, put an end to the tragic exploitation of human beings by organised migrant traffickers and keep legal and safe migration paths open, especially for countries that have a shortage of workers, and finally, set up a strong, functioning and convincing system of returns for those that have no reason to stay in Europe.
According to the Commissioner, climate change may soon emerge as another major contributing factor to migration flows, while he said that the EU must cooperate with the countries where migrants originate in more inventive ways, suggesting that "money and investments are not enough".