According to Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, the refugee relocation programme is progressing according to plan.
Avramopoulos asserted the success of the programme during an interview with Athens News Agency, where he stated there had been record 3,000 relocations of refugees from Greece and Italy in June.
Following is the full interview transcript:
– How are relocations from Greece progressing?
Avramopoulos: In June, there was a record for relocations. Approximately 3,000 were relocated from Greece and Italy in just one month, raising the total number to 24,000. However, there are still 6,000 people that are ready to be relocated from Greece. It is absolutely feasible for the relocation of all those that are eligible to be completed by end of September. The fact that the relocation programme ends in September does not mean that the legal obligations of the Member-States are over. The Member States will continue to have an obligation to relocate eligible candidates that reach Europe before the end of September.
– How do you evaluate the decision of the Advocate General on relocation?
Avramopoulos: The recommendation rejects the arguments of Hungary and Slovakia for annulling the decisions for relocation to relieve Greece and Italy from the migration pressure they are under. The Commission is convinced of the legality of the Council’s decisions for relocation. In any case, the procedure for challenging these decisions before the Court does not suspend the legal obligation of the Member States to proceed to make commitments for relocation.
– Will infringement proceedings continue?
Avramopoulos: Today we are taking an additional step. The Commission has sent reasoned opinions to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for non-compliance with their legal obligations on relocation. This is the second stage of the infringement procedures for these Member-States. I want to stress, however, that if these Member States decide to change their stance our door is always open. We are ready to work with them.
– Italy is under great pressure. In what way will the EU help?
Avramopoulos: The Commission stands at Italy’s side. In a letter we sent yesterday with President Juncker and the first vice-president to the Italian prime minister we made it clear. We are ready to take any measure that the Italian government considers useful, such as: speeding up relocations, activating additional emergency funding and sending staff from European organisations.