Hotspots to open in next two weeks

Merkel, Hol­lande call for change to ‘ob­so­lete’ EU asy­lum reg­u­la­tions for refugees

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

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.”

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