Press Release – On Thursday 15th of May 2014, the Asylum Service held a meeting in Athens with heads and representatives of the respective services from Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria aiming at the cooperation and common understanding of issues relating to the Common European Asylum System and burden sharing among the Member States of the European Union.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the State Agency for Refugees, Bulgaria, the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security of Malta, the Asylum Service of Cyprus, the Asylum Service of the Greek Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The main issue discussed at the meeting, was solidarity in the framework of the Common European Asylum System in managing migration flows and asylum claims in the Member States of the European Union.
The Director of the Greek Asylum Service, Ms. Maria Stavropoulou, talked about the challenges faced primarily by the countries of Southern and Southeastern Europe (Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria) due to the large number of refugees and illegal migrants entering those countries who seek international protection, as well as the procedures of the Common European Asylum System that have brought significant changes and improvements in the management of asylum claims within the EU. However, she expressed her concerns regarding solidarity: although it has been recognized as an essential and indispensable element of the Common European Asylum System, it has not been materialized yet in practice.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the participants agreed on a common plan of action and cooperation, so as to explore ways to enhance solidarity and burden sharing. «Member States could agree to a new and fairer mechanism for the reception of asylum seekers and granting of international protection, taking into account the geographical location, population, economic strength, unemployment rates in the host countries,» said Ms. Maria Stavropoulou. «This requires a balanced approach in all areas and solidarity should be extended beyond the scope of the Common European Asylum System, so as to include all aspects of asylum and migration management,» added Ms. Stavropoulou.
The conclusions of the meeting will be shared with the incoming Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.