The European Commission has issued a second Recommendation to the Greek government relating to necessary measures to be taken in view of a resumption of transfers of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation.

Following on from its shorter Recommendation of 10 February 2016, the Commission has introduced a more detailed assessment of the necessary preconditions before a reinstatement of Dublin transfers to Greece may take place. Many of the specific recommendations made reflect concerns expressed by ECRE in its Comments to the Recommendation, including among others:

  • The need to clarify that reception facilities must follow the standards of the recast Reception Conditions Directiveand be designed for “permanent” or longer-term accommodation, rather than short stays. As explained in earlier ECRE positions, less than 1,500 such places exist in reception centres in Greece at the moment;
  • The need for sizeable investments in human and financial resources, following a needs assessment by the Greek authorities, to enhance the capacity of the Asylum Service to register and examine a considerably higher of asylum applications compared to previous years, as well as the capacity of the Appeals Authority to examine appeals;
  • The need to implement the legal aid scheme recently introduced for appeals by Law 4375/2016and to establish a registry of lawyers providing legal representation to asylum seekers under that framework;
  • Specific needs pertaining to vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied children or victims of torture and violence.

Given the persisting deficiencies in the Greek asylum system, the 15 June Commission Recommendation seems to confirm more firmly than its predecessor that reinstating transfers of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation would still be a premature endeavour. From the outset, the Commission notes that:

“Any resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece should also take into account that Greece still needs to deal with a potentially large number of new asylum applicants, notably as a result of the implementation of the so-called pre-registration exercise, and it should be avoided that an unsustainable burden is placed on Greece.”

However, the intention of the Commission to include Dublin returns to the political agenda last September seems to have reinvigorated Member States’ interest in resuming transfers. Hungary has already issued decisions to that effect, though asylum seekers have not yet been transferred back to Greece at this stage.

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This article originally appeared in the Asylum Information Database (AIDA)

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 17 June 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.