Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Malmström interviewed by ECRE

The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has recently published an interview with Cecilia Malmström, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. 

The main focus in the interview is the migration situation in Greece and how EU is responding to this. Malmström emphasises that the humanitarian situation in Greece in unacceptable and recognises at the same time that the country is under massive pressure: financially, politically and also in terms of their migration experience.  The European Asylum Support Office is referred to as a particular measure of EU solidarity, for which Malmström is a known advocate. 

On a question related to the constraints that Greece is currently facing, the Commissioner states that: “Greece could make much better use of employing people from NGOs to do some of the work.  There are some really good strong NGOs in Greece.”  We welcome this approach and urge our NGO colleagues in Greece to make the most of this statement. 

Malmström is also asked about the financial aspects of the new detention centres that Greece is planning to establish.  Her answer is somehow more indistinct, saying that detention should always be the last resort of Member States, but that EU funds might be utilized as a financial source:  “We have received some preliminary demands for funds, but we are still waiting for more specificity before we can make any decision on this. I have told this to the Greek Minister, so we are waiting for more details before we can finance anything.”  

We're always concerned when Member States utilise EU funds for detention centres, since this runs the risk of resulting in the EU approval of police and practices that could run counter to international and regional human rights standards.

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