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EU Gives Greece Two Weeks to Form Border Control Plan

Afgan RefugeesThe European Commission on Tuesday gave Greece two weeks to present a concrete plan to improve protection of Europe’s external borders in order to stop massive refugee inflows.
The European Commission finds that Greece has failed to file an adequate plan to deal with the refugee crisis. If Athens fails to implement an adequate plan, the Commission will extend existing border checks on travelers from Greece to other parts of the passport-free Schengen area until at least mid-November, so that migrants trapped in Greece would not be able to travel further to Europe.
“The commission confirms that it will be prepared for this eventuality and would act without delay,” the commission said in a report Tuesday.
In the document, the commission finds that while Greece has made some progress since its first warning in November, it has still failed to submit concrete timelines, cost estimates and name the authorities responsible for various requirements.
Currently, there are about 53,000 refugees and migrants who came from Turkey and are stranded on Greek soil. The vast majority of them wish to cross to prosperous central and northern European countries.
Europe has closed the Balkan Route, meaning that refugees cannot cross through Greece’s northern and northwestern neighbors, namely Bulgaria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania. In addition, the EU deal with Turkey to take back all migrants arriving in Greece from its shores have significantly reduced the numbers coming into the EU bloc.
Under the EU-Turkey deal, Greece must focus on returning people and stop issuing temporary stay permits to migrants who land on Greek islands that have allowed them to travel onto the mainland and then further north, the commission says.
The report finds that Greece provides poor housing conditions for migrants, particularly families with children and unaccompanied minors. It also says Greece faces significant challenges in running migrants’ fingerprints through EU’s security databases and checking if their passports are valid.
The report further says it remains unclear what Greece plans to do to improve coastal surveillance in the near-term, when those measures are to be implemented and how much they will cost. The commission also wants urgent action by Greece to set up joint patrols with the EU border force Frontex on its northern border with non-EU member FYROM, where violence has erupted in recent days as thousands of migrants attempted to cross the border by force.

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