Hotspots to open in next two weeks
Merkel, Hollande call for change to ‘obsolete’ EU asylum regulations for refugees
Facilities for the registration of migrants and refugees in Greece, to be known as “hotspots,” will be operational within two weeks, a European Commission spokesperson said yesterday as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande called for a change to European Union legislation on asylum application procedures.
The hotspots are to be based on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, which has been particularly burdened by the influx of migrants, and the main port of Piraeus.
EC President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke yesterday with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, who visited Lesvos on Tuesday with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a spokesperson for Juncker said. During his visit, Faymann pledged to send 100 technical experts to help Greek officials to register a steady stream of migrants and refugees.
In Strasbourg meanwhile, the seat of the European Parliament, Merkel and Hollande called for an overhaul of the so-called Dublin II regulation, which obliges migrants to submit asylum applications in the first EU member state they enter. Merkel described the regulation as “obsolete,” saying it put an excessive burden on countries on the EU’s external borders, such as Greece and Italy. The leaders did not specify what an alternative system would involve.
On Lesvos, authorities have appealed for help without delay, saying arrivals exceed 5,000 on some days. “The infrastructure is inadequate,” the regional governor for the northern Aegean, Christina Kalogirou, told Kathimerini. “We don’t have thousands of refugees sleeping at the port in tents. But everything is hanging by a thread,” she said, adding that a sudden increase in arrivals would prompt “gridlock.”