Commissioner Avramopoulos: The situation regarding the migrant issue is better than last year

The situation regarding the migrant issue is better than last year, EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said at a press conference of the Justice and Home Affairs Council.

However, the situation is still very fragile in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria, he added, but also in other Member States that have to deal with a high number of asylum applications, irregular migrants to return and refugees to integrate.

Avramopoulos welcomes the success of all Member States to deliver on their commitments.

In the last few months, many Member States have increased their efforts on relocation and resettlement, demonstrating what is possible, if the political will is there, he noted.

“I encouraged the Ministers to continue delivering like this, and the Commission will continue supporting Member States with all available means to further accelerate the implementation of the relocation and resettlement schemes, as well as the full implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement,” he stated.

The EU Commissioner stressed that migration challenges cannot only be addressed inside Europe, but we have to work with our external partners.

“Today we had a fruitful discussion on the Migration Partnership Framework which is a key element to reduce irregular migration flows and improve returns of irregular migrants. Today, we have not only discussed about the measures to address the immediate needs, but also how to build a more resilient European migration and asylum policy to face future challenges.”

Avramopoulos acknowledged that progress has been reached on the reform of Eurodac and to create a new European Asylum Agency, adding “I hope we can reach an agreement by the end of the year.”

“Following the official launch of the European Border and Coast Guard last week, we discussed the next steps to fully operationalise the new agency within the coming months. For this, I called on the Member States to be fully engaged to set up for instance the pool of experts. However, better managing our external borders in order to reduce irregular arrivals means also that we have to enhance pathways for people in need of protection to come legally. This is why we had an intensive discussion on the EU resettlement framework.”

All these elements are inter-linked and crucial building blocks of a sustainable and future-proof European migration and asylum policy, he underlined.

“Finally, managing our external borders better is also essential to improve our security. The key element here is exchange of information,” according to the Commissioner.

“We all agreed that we have to know who is crossing our external borders. For that, we already have proposals on the table for systematic checks of EU citizens at our external borders, and for an EU entry-exit system. These changes to our border management are urgent to improve our security. The Member States and the European Parliament need to move quickly and adopt them into law still this year. I have also informed the Ministers that next month I will propose an EU Travel Information and Authorisation System, similar to the US ‘ESTA’,” he concluded.