MINISTRY OF CITIZEN PROTECTION
Athens, 25 August 2010
Greece sends its National Action Plan for Migration Management to the European Commission
The Greek Ministry of Citizens Protection has drafted and sent the National Action Plan for Migration Management’ to the European Commission. The Action Plan sets out the complete strategy of the Greek government for managing migration, encompassing the screening of irregular migrants, the new Asylum system, detention, repatriation and returns. The strategy includes initiatives affecting vulnerable groups which have been made in partnership with the Ministry of Health. The Action Plan generally aims to ensure that the Migration challenges faced by Greece as a result of the large influx of irregular migrants are met with a fair and efficient system.
The implementation of the Action Plan will take three years.
The main actions are as follows:
The creation of first reception and screening centers and procedures for persons irregularly entering the country . The aim is to ensure that there is a structured screening process. In its first phase (by the end of 2011), the government plans to establish mobile screening centers as well as three permanent ones in Evros, the Dodecanese and Lesvos
The creation of a new independent Asylum service, independent of the police, and the complete restructuring of the Asylum system in Greece . The ultimate aim is to establish this new Asylum service which will be staffed by civilian personnel. This newly established Asylum Service is planned to take on its duties in October 2011. The Interim Presidential Decree setting out the transitional procedures for claiming asylum has already been signed by the Minister for Citizens Protection.
The introduction of new procedures and support for vulnerable groups. This will be done by improving physical structures as well as increasing support to services working with vulnerable groups. Existing buildings used as receptions centers will be increased in space while alternative accommodation for these groups will also be sought. Financial and other support will be given to departments and organizations working with vulnerable groups, and a new body which will co-ordinate all social assistance which is given to these groups by the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity.
The building of new exemplary pre-return, removal and detention centres New removal centres for irregular migrants awaiting deportation (to be built in line with guidelines set out by the CPT) will be constructed, whilst the current EXPA centres will be converted to pre-return centres, and least two new detention centres will be build with a capacity for at least 1000 persons (2 x 500)
Increasing the efficiency of the return of irregular migrants to their countries of origin: The Action Plan aims to do this through the conclusion of bi-lateral agreements with countries (from which a high number of persons illegally cross into Greece), and through the development of repatriation projects (the first such agreement has already been developed with IOM.)
The role of the European Union and its member states in the implementation and oversight of this Action plan is crucial. Greece has the difficult role of guarding the external borders of the EU. Not only that constitutes a tremendous financial burden, but has also hurt its international image through criticism paid for maltreatment of irregular migrants.
Greece is amongst the EU member states which are categorized in the Stockholm Program as countries facing ‘particular pressures’.
As agreed, with the submission of the action plan to the European Commission, Greece is informing the EU of its goals and objectives and is anticipating EU solidarity in its attempt to manage fairly and effectively all immigration flows.
Besides the provision of emergency funding for the implementation of the transition phase of the asylum process and the first screening and reception centers, the EU is requested to provide Greece for the next 3 years with the following:
Financial contributions, (regular and emergency), for infrastructure and services
Know-how and training
Supervision and quality assessment of the immigration flow system
Modernization of the central statistical system
Finally, the Action Plan highlights the important role of the EU in the assistance for signing readmission agreements with third countries and the need to fast track this process, as well as the necessity to revise the Dublin II Agreement.