Parliament President Schulz calls for safe and permanent shelter in Europe for refugees
European Parliament President Martin Schulz urged EU member states and others today to honour their commitments and step up significantly their efforts to provide a safe and permanent shelter in Europe for refugees in a spirit of European solidarity.
Concluding a two-day visit to Greece, including Athens and the island of Lesbos, Mr Schulz praised the work of the Greek government, NGOs and European and international agencies. But he also said that "the situation is dramatic. Much more needs to be done to start managing the situation."
The Parliament President listed five urgent measures to be taken immediately:
• the Greek authorities need to complete the designated hotspots
• the hotspots need to be relieved by active relocation by all member states as formally agreed by the Council
• to this end, emergency funding and investments must reach their destination quickly
• resettlement policies need to be upgraded and readmission agreements must be implemented and negotiated
• there must be a "frank discussion" with Turkey to implement step by step the agreements reached, while recognizing the "considerable efforts deployed by Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan".
Mr Schulz noted that a first step was taken Wednesday morning when around 30 Syrian and Iraqi refugees were relocated from Athens to Luxembourg. "Cynics want to focus on the small numbers, and this can indeed only be seen as a first step. I want to see dozens of such flights in the next days, to all member states, sending a signal to the smugglers and traffickers that we can cut them out and to the refugees that safe avenues exist. I will remember the huge smiles of the children and their families going on to find a safe and permanent shelter in Europe. European solidarity can work if we all commit to it."