12 February, 2016, 12:00 am
EUROPEAN Union states took a new step towards a two-year suspension of their open-borders zone yesterday as the bloc’s executive again rebuked them for failing to act on agreements to stem irregular migration.
The European Commission, in reports ahead of an EU summit next week when leaders will again discuss how to resolve a crisis that has set them against each other, renewed its pleas for Greece and Italy to speed up the establishment of processing centres to register refugees and deport illegal migrants.
Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos praised Athens and Rome for a “spectacular” increase in how many arrivals they are fingerprinting, but said they were still falling short.
He said other member states were also failing to stand by frontline Mediterranean counterparts and take in more than a few hundred asylum seekers from Italy and Greece under an EU scheme that stipulated the relocation of at least 160,000.
“We need urgently to shift gears,” Mr Avramopoulos told a news conference, saying he had written to each of the bloc’s 28 interior ministers spelling out what more they needed to do.