"We stand at Greece’s side in tackling the migration crisis" - Minister
Migration/European Union/Greece – Reply by M. Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly
Paris, 29 March 2016
We have to want Greece’s recovery, both out of solidarity and for Europe’s security too, because as you said, in view of the migration crisis, we can’t allow Greece alone to become a sort of bottleneck because the Balkans route is closed, because Macedonia has closed its border, because the Balkans countries were afraid of being destabilized by the continued arrival of very many refugees and because Austria and, ultimately, Germany couldn’t go on taking in more than a million refugees this year as was the case last year.
So there was an emergency, and this is why France asked for several decisions to be taken.
The first is that a special humanitarian assistance budget for a European Union country confronted by an emergency humanitarian situation can be made available from what were called ECHO funds, which tended to be used for third countries. So €700 million will be made available for countries confronted by that situation – today this is clearly Greece –, €300 million of which this year and €200 million next year and in 2018 if necessary.
Secondly, there are reception and registration centres in Greece, the much talked-about “hotspots”. Qualified staff, particularly in terms of border police, in terms of asylum, still need to be provided. So Bernard Cazeneuve, the Interior Minister, and his German counterpart have decided that France and Germany will send 600 specialist staff – 300 each: 200 for Frontex and 100 for the European Asylum Support Office – to help Greece, including [help for it] to implement the agreement with Turkey, which consists of a readmission agreement for irregular migrants and a special agreement for Syrians to check that their right of asylum is clearly respected. There will be no collective expulsion, and every asylum application will be processed individually and can be subject to an appeal.
We stand at Greece’s side today in tackling the migration crisis, as we did very recently in tackling the euro crisis./.