Misguided or not, the EU Commission stepped up pressure on Hungary, Italy, Croatia, Greece and Malta to register all migrants and refugees entering the EU and to follow European rules in dealing with asylum claims.
The European Commission announced on Thursday 10 December 2015 that it has launched legal proceedings in line with processing infringements “for failing to fully transpose and implement the Common European Asylum System,” against Greece, Croatia, Italy, Malta and Hungary for inadequately documenting the arrival of refugees. Specifically, the Commission burdens Greece, Croatia and Italy for failing to implement the Eurodac Regulation, which requires fingerprinting refugees within 72 hours of their arrival. Now the Commission has issued letters of formal notice to the countries involved—the first step of its infringement procedure. In simple words, these three countries had fingerprinted significantly less refugees than the number that has crossed their borders in their quest to reach Germany, Sweden … Western Europe. The point is that the Dublin Regulation on refugees includes the expectation that refugees sent back from a country where asylum has been denied are sent back to the EU country where they were first fingerprinted/registered.
In other words, Greece, Croatia and Italy have now been threatened with expensive court cases for failing to follow migrant rules, which, by the way, seem most inappropriate and inadequate in today’s refugee crisis. In EU Commission’s claimed breach of a process intended to prevent migrants travelling on through central Europe and into Germany, those countries failed to fingerprint asylum seekers within three days (72 hours) of arrival as required by the Eurodac Regulation. The number of asylum applications made to European Union (EU) countries since January has reportedly reached more than 1 million. Certainly there have been over 450,000 that have passed through Croatia since mid-September 2015 and that is only one route of several which refugees and illegal migrants take.
“The Dublin Regulation (Regulation No. 604/2013; sometimes the Dublin III Regulation; previously the Dublin II Regulation and Dublin Convention) is a European Union (EU) law that determines the EU Member State responsible to examine an application for asylum seekers seeking international protection under the Geneva Convention and the EU Qualification Directive, within the European Union. It is the cornerstone of the Dublin System, which consists of the Dublin Regulation and the EURODAC Regulation, which establishes a Europe-wide fingerprinting database for unauthorised entrants to the EU. The Dublin Regulation aims to ‘determine rapidly the Member State responsible [for an asylum claim]’and provides for the transfer of an asylum seeker to that Member State. Usually, the responsible Member State will be the state through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.”
On perhaps a more serious note than the case of infringements against Greece, Croatia and Italy the Commission’s actions against Hungary see Hungary facing legal action by the EU over allegations it failed to respect the rights of failed asylum seekers having allegedly ignored rules protecting failed asylum seekers from deportation while appeals are in progress. The European Commission also said that Hungary’s fast-track deportation regime ignores migrants’ rights to an interpreter, and left what should have been judicial decisions in the hands of unqualified secretaries.
Hungary thus faces a process against it for its asylum policies and newly passed legislation, which the Commission described as “incompatible with EU law.” The Commission views Hungary’s asylum appeals procedures as too strict and its translation services as inadequate or inefficient!
Greece and Malta face action for failure to meet standards for migrant reception centres. They are burdened with apparently failing to communicate the national measures taken to fully transpose the Asylum Procedures Directive, which sets out common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and the Reception Conditions Directive, which deals with access to reception conditions for asylum seekers while they wait for examination of their applications.
The proceedings, which can be proposed by the European Commission or another EU-member country, will be passed to the Court of Justice of the European Union which could force the member countries burdened with infringements of Eurodac Regulation or Asylum Procedures Directives with hefty fines the countries in question can ill afford.
But, at the end of the day, the infringements are not as significant as is the issue of Germany under Angela Merkel’s voicing invitations that kept encouraging and inviting refugees and illegal migrants to come to Germany. This invitation had caused chaos and rush of people moving through countries to reach Germany, in many instances avoiding registration purposefully in EU countries they first set foot upon. No one, without using guns, could have stopped the stampede of refugees on their way to Germany or Western Europe. The refugees and the illegal migrants seemed to have known the EU asylum seeker laws quite well for an overwhelming majority did not and do not apply for asylum and international protection when in Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy – they push to reach Germany and Western Europe first. They seem to be well aware of the provision under the Dublin Regulation that, in case of being in several countries over the months preceding and during asylum application, the country of their most recent temporary abode must take on the responsibility of their asylum seeking case. Hence the rush, the chaos, the determination to reach Germany or Sweden or other relatively wealthy Western European countries as quickly as possible, avoiding being fingerprinted or properly registered en route. Furthermore, false claims of origins – false registrations – have been reported as especially concerning since EU announced in October 2015 it was not taking in people from other countries than Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and, it is well known that masses from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Albania, African countries are numerous among the river of people heading across Europe in search of a better life.
Regretfully, the EU Commission does not seem to have adequately addressed the fact that it takes money and manpower to fingerprint or register the masses that were crossing the borders of Croatia, Greece, and Italy etc. EU Commission should have acted quickly and provided the needed support for the registration of would-be asylum seekers or illegal migrants at first EU country border crossed in pursuit of reaching Germany to where they were invited instead of evidently expecting the seriously economically impoverished to bear the financial burden of prompt fingerprinting. One would think that the Dublin Regulation was not construed having in mind that fingerprinting or registration of refugees should jeopardise the well being of people living in countries where refugees first arrive.
“Broken down the numbers of migrants seeking asylum between June and September give an interesting picture of the crisis,” writes Sarkis Zeronian of Breitbart London. “Predictably about a third were Syrians, with a further 14 per cent from Afghanistan and 10 per cent from Iraq. However, more surprising is that fact that some 26,000 Albanians, 21,000 Pakistanis and 11,175 Nigerians also applied for asylum.
Albania aspires to membership of the EU, Pakistan is a Commonwealth country, and Nigeria, as well as also being in the Commonwealth, is one of Africa’s fastest growing states. These countries do not represent typical war-torn nations which generate refugees and asylum seekers.”
In this saga of EU Commission taking legal action against member countries for not fingerprinting all of the hundreds of thousands of refugees and illegal migrants crossing their borders does indeed remind one of an occurrence resembling trans-national militarism; where some blanket EU unity is being forced on issues that do not enjoy or cannot enjoy a problem-free contribution to that unity by all member states. The problem for the EU “big powers”, such as France and Germany, is that they do not seem to take lightly the fact that the EU member countries grossly economically and otherwise affected (Hungary, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Malta…) by the transit of hundreds of thousands of refugees on their way to Germany and Western Europe have taken steps for their own protection from seemingly irreparable damage. So, they assisted the desperate refugees to cross over their territories in order to reach Germany, while also building fences to discourage refugees from crossing over or placing more police and army guards at the borders. This lawsuit or infringement imposing process the EU Commission has started has all the hallmarks of trans-national militarism partly being achieved through bullying the Southern and Eastern European countries into submitting to refugee management rules that appear inadequate and to open a door for returning to those countries (at least as a transient measure) all those hundreds of thousands of people who do not achieve asylum/international protection in Germany, France or Western Europe. Interesting times are ahead and if the latter starts happening the countries affected should refuse turning their territories into one big refugee concentration camp. EU surely cannot penalise its member countries in this way just because their geographic position is such that refugees reach their shores/borders first on the way to Western Europe. The Equal distribution of refugee numbers among EU member countries of a couple of months ago, initiated by France and Germany, had not worked and now they’re leading the push to bully Southern and Eastern EU countries (Malta, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Hungary) for not fingerprinting every single one of the million or so entering Europe through them. Not even bothering to ask, it seems, whether these countries had the resources as well as the opportunity to fully attend to such a demanding, mammoth task; not even thanking the countries it intends to sue for saving so many refugee lives in the chaos of large numbers of arrivals that are in essence unmanageable; how disappointing a move by the EU. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)