Refugee crisis tops the agenda of the EU General Affairs Council

Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, participated in the meeting of the EU General Affairs Council (GAC), held on Tuesday in Brussels. The GAC agenda included preparations for the European Council summit to be held this Thursday and Friday, in Brussels, and was topped by the refugee/migration issue and employment, growth and competitiveness issues.

The GAC also looked at the European Semester, the Interinstitutional Agreement and Cohesion Policy, with a focus on investments in new jobs and optimization of the contribution of the European Structural and Investment Funds.

In his remarks, which focused on the refugee and migration issue, Mr. Xydakis highlighted that the 1:1 ratio proposed in the new EU-Turkey agreement needs broader legitimization from the member states, and that the implementation of this measure must not end up being a bilateral issue between Greece and Turkey. “There is a very difficult management problem. With such a large number of incoming refugees/migrants, who can manage the asylum applications? It is now obvious that we need to move to a common European Asylum System,” Mr. Xydakis noted.

The Alternate Foreign Minister also added: “If we are to overcome the crisis, we must not render political problems technical… This leads to mass Euroskepticism and is seen in the rise of hard-right populism, leading to the questioning of the European vision.” Mr. Xydakis recognized non-compliance with the decisions of the EU organs as a major problem, speaking of inconsistency and discontinuity.