As migrants continue to brave winter weather to get to Europe, Athens is coming under renewed pressure to control the flow.
The European Commission wants to bring back Dublin rules for Greece, suspended in 2011 – meaning people would be returned to the country if that is where they were first registered.
But there are big questions about whether Athens could cope with such an obligation.
“It is not our intention, I mean the Commission’s intention and all the member states’ I believe, to put more burden on the shoulders of Greece,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Migration Commissioner, told euronews.
“Talking about Dublin, we shouldn’t misinterpret what we have decided. Dublin is still there. In some countries it works, in some countries it doesn’t work”
More than a million migrants reached Europe last year. The bloc agreed to relocate people from Greece and Italy, to share the burden more evenly among other EU countries.
But, so far, it has been failing. Only 497 people have been relocated out of 160-thousand, who are supposed to be resettled in two years.
Pressed on whether infringement procedures would be brought against member states who do not implement relocation and other EU requirements, Avramopoulos said: “It’s not foreseeable for the near future. So right now we don’t want to punish anybody. What we want to do is to put everybody in front of their responsibilities.
“If some member states might react in a negative way and they don’t want to comply we have the means to try to convince them”.
The Commissioner also stressed the importance of implementing so-called “hot spots” to screen new migrant arrivals.
If recommendations are approved, Greece will have three months to fix deficiencies, or the Schengen zone could be suspended for up to two years.
EU leaders will meet next week, under growing pressure to get the migration crisis under control before warmer spring weather encourages a surge of new arrivals.
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