EU border countries discuss common stance on immigration

Athens, Mar 20 (efe-epa).- Ministers of interior and migration of Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, and Cyprus are meeting on Saturday on the outskirts of Athens to establish a common stance on the future migration policy of the European Union.

As the migration deal between the EU and Turkey enter its fifth year, the front-line countries want to convey that the pact proposed by Brussels in September was not enough to support the border countries.

The five countries agree that the new migration and asylum pact should guarantee a balanced distribution of the migratory burden, with a “substantial and practical” solidarity of all member countries, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said on the meeting eve.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s proposal does not force a mandatory quota for refugee relocation.

It allows the bloc countries to choose to host immigrants, provide logistic support for these states receiving them or help with the sponsored return.

The new pact, in preparation, will only work if the five countries receive enough support through the reallocation of asylum seekers, Mitarakis said.

The key points should be to shield the EU borders, establish a common European mechanism to deport those who have no right to international protection, the minister added.

The meeting will also review the state of the EU-Turkey deal that came into force five years ago, with the ministers likely to stress the importance that both parties comply with the pact.

The protocol, signed in 2016, stipulates that all illegal immigrants arriving on the Greek island be relocated to Turkey in exchange for six billion euros to finance education and integration programs on its territory.

Having run out of budget, Turkey now considers it insufficient as it has provided shelter for 3.6 million people from Syria only.

The EU should now decide whether to renew the pact considered a success given that it has curbed the migration flow through eastern the Mediterranean. EFE-EPA


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