Meeting in Dublin on 17 January, the member states' home affairs ministers expressed satisfaction with Greece's new action plan on immigration and asylum. The country drew up the plan after the European Court of Human Rights ruled against it, in January 2011, for failure to respect human dignity.
Greece's Minister of Public Order, Nikolaos Dendias, presented to fellow European ministers his country's new action plan that revises the August 2010 plan. The European Commission criticised the earlier version last October for numerous weaknesses, although it did contain certain advances (creation of 200 new public service jobs for three new services: reception, asylum applications and appeal procedures). Strengthening of the Greek-Turkish border in the Evros region, which has become the main point of entry in Europe for asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, is also said to have led to a 30% decrease in illegal entries, according to figures cited by the Greek minister. This improvement is said to result from EU support through Frontex for border control and better cooperation with Turkish authorities.
"But there is still a great deal to be done," said Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, whose services dealing with immigration evaluate the situation on a daily basis. The new 100-page action plan sets clearer and better structured priorities. But she has also heard the figure of 55,000 pending asylum applications. "That may be approximate," said the commissioner, who expects Greece to improve its identification of applicants.
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