The Commission reports on steady progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and on relocation and resettlement. It also recommends the gradual resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece. The EC also presents an Action plan to improve the security of travel documents.
The Commission reported today on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration and presented, in the context of Security Union, an Action Plan to strengthen the European response to tackle travel document fraud:
The numbers of irregular crossings of the Aegean during the reporting period remained dramatically lower than before the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and amounts to 90 daily arrivals in average since March compared to 10,000 in a single day in October last year.
So far, the return of 1,187 irregular migrants has been carried out from the Greek islands to Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement or the Greece-Turkey bilateral readmission protocol, in full respect of EU and international law.
As regards the implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap, seven benchmarks remain to be met by Turkey. The Commission and Turkey have continued their dialogue to find solutions.
The Commission has continued to accelerate the delivery of funding under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, having already allocated a total of €2.2 billion out of the €3 billion foreseen for 2016-2017 to address the most urgent needs of refugees and host communities in Turkey. The amounts contracted have increased to €1.3 billion. The Commission is making all necessary efforts to ensure an acceleration of disbursements under the Facility, the sum of which has now reached €677 million.
-Relocation and resettlement
Member States have continued to increase their efforts both on relocation. In total, 8,162 persons have been relocated so far, 6,212 from Greece and 1,950 from Italy.
The Commission considers that it should now be feasible to transfer all eligible relocation applicants in Greece and Italy to other Member States by September 2017. To achieve this goal, Member States should from now on carry out at least 2,000 relocations per month from Greece and 1,000 from Italy. As of April 2017, the monthly number of relocations from Greece should be at least 3,000 and from Italy 1,500.
The Commission has continued to work closely with the Greek and Italian authorities as well as Member States to remove obstacles to speedier relocation on the ground. The Commission has decided today to close infringement procedures against Italy and Greece for non-implementation of the Eurodac regulation because in both Member States, there is now a fingerprinting rate of close to 100% of third-country nationals who entered the EU irregularly.
The trend on resettlement under the July 2015 scheme agreement is also positive, 13,887 people have been resettled so far out of the 22,504 agreed. And 2,761 Syrian refugees have been resettled from Turkey to Europe under the EU-Turkey Statement.
-Dublin transfers to Greece to be gradually resumed
In its Fourth Recommendation on the resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece, the Commission notes that significant progress has been achieved by Greece in putting in place the essential institutional and legal structures for a properly functioning asylum system but a number of challenges remain, notably the persistent migratory pressure and deficiencies in reception conditions, the treatment of vulnerable applicants and the speed of processing asylum applications.
The Commission therefore recommends that transfers to Greece should be resumed only gradually, on the basis of individual assurances from the Greek authorities for each returnee, guaranteeing they will be received in dignity. This will only concern asylum applicants who have entered Greece irregularly from 15 March 2017 onwards or for whom Greece is responsible from 15 March 2017 under other Dublin criteria. Vulnerable asylum applicants, including unaccompanied minors, should not be transferred to Greece.
Security Union: Action Plan to better tackle travel document fraud
Today, the Commission has adopted an Action Plan setting out concrete measures to improve the security of travel documents. It provides clear recommendations for Member States to tackle the phenomenon of travel document fraud and outlines a comprehensive set of actions for the Commission to take.