Commissioner-designate for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitri Avramopoulos, the nominee from Greece for the position of EU Commissioner, was examined by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs (LIBE) at a hearing on Tuesday 30 September.

Avramopoulos opposed the notion of a ‘Fortress Europe’, and stated that “it is Europe’s responsibility to offer protection to refugees fleeing war or persecution, to respect the rights of asylum seekers and, in particular, to respect human beings’ lives and the right of non-refoulement in all circumstances.”

Avramopoulos was supportive of opening up channels for legal migration and stated that resettlement should be increased. The Commissioner-designate also stated that European embassies in third states could deal with the claims of people seeking international protection or a legal migration status.

The candidate also stressed his intention to strengthen Frontex and suggested that the EU Border Agency could develop into “an authority that protects borders and save lives”. According to Avramopoulos some aspects of the Dublin system, which establishes which Member State will examine an asylum application, need revising.

Commenting on Avramopoulos’ stand on freedom of movement for refugees within the EU, professor Steve Peers said: “he appeared to believe that the implementation of the second phase of the Common European Asylum System (in July 2015), as well as EU legislation on legal migration, would be sufficient to secure mutual recognition for refugee decisions in the EU. But the existing EU rules only allow refugees and persons with subsidiary protection to move between Member States once they have qualified as long-term residents. To do this, they have to reside legally in a Member State for at least five years, and meet other conditions as well. If they do then move between Member States, their protection status does not in fact travel with them (except if they are moving between the small number of States which have ratified a Council of Europe Convention on this issue)”.

Regarding detention of migrants, the Greek candidate to the European Commission affirmed that detention beyond 18 months was unacceptable.


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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 3 October 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.