Greece has the legal power to oblige the rest of the EU to share responsibility for the latest refugee Mass Influx — why do they not use it?

Law is not a pick and mix sweeties shop for politicians to use as and when they please and leave the rest — apply the whole law properly or else Greece and Turkey should drop their procedural law treaty commitments to the EU.

As I’ve pointed out many times before, with more references: (,,, )

The Greek state has the legal trigger to OBLIGE the rest of the EU to share responsibility in case of a Mass Influx of people likely to be in need of international protection, which has been the case since 2015 and is likely to peak again soon because of the Turkish decision to release refugees again, but has so far chosen not to use it and acted as if they don’t have that power.

So far, instead of using that legal power to oblige the EU to do what they’ve been constantly rhetorically asking for, they just keep moaning for more money from the EU and Germany, while misspending most of it on nepotistic corruption and using the refugees as a convenient scapegoat for all their economic problems, which really were mostly caused by their own incompetent and corrupt government.

Instead of continuing to scapegoat refugees for their economic problems, they should officially notify the European Council that they have a Mass Influx of persons who are manifestly in need of international protection and they require the activation of TFEU 78.3 and the Temporary Protection Directive 2011 IMMEDIATELY.

No more just paying Greece to keep refugees detained on the islands and no more making up blatantly performative ‘legal’ lies about Turkey being a ‘Safe Third Country’ to the standards in APD2013 Art.38 just in order to add an Admissibility procedure in order to put a paper legal excuse over why they’re detaining people in deliberately degrading conditions in order to use them as a vicarious punitive deterrent against more refugees coming and to make them less able to represent themselves legally through the asylum procedures, to try to dishonestly reject some of them at Admissibility stage on STC grounds and use the display of forcibly returning them as another deterrent.

It’s time for actually sharing responsibility according to the EU constitutional treaty and activating obligatory proportional relocation of refugees around the EU; not just voluntary relocation. A reasonable proportional method with four factors was defined in EU Migration Agenda December 2015 Annex D.

The negotiations and consent for this happened when all EU member states acceded to the Union under the TFEU, including the implementing law for 78.3 which is the Temporary Protection Directive 2011, or they were original treaty partners and consented to the laws then. They consented before, and have taken all the benefits of membership ever since. Now is the time for obligatory proportional sharing of responsibility when some member states cannot cope with more refugees while keeping EU human rights standards, which goes with having had those benefits.

There isn’t enough time and legal administrative resources in Greece alone to provide proper individual asylum procedures for everyone at the level of procedural rights including the maximum legal timeframes fixed in the CEAS Directives, so that means it is a ‘Mass Influx’, and the applicable legal instrument for that is Temporary Protection, which means a collective grant to the asylum seekers from countries where it is manifestly obvious why they are likely to need international protection now. Then each EU member state should do individual asylum procedures for them later, as and when resources allow them to do that properly.

And if the European Council fails to activate the Temporary Protection Directive under the terms of TFEU Art. 78.3 within a week or a month (Greece should pick the shortest ultimatum deadline which is feasible), they should open the northern borders and the airports for refugees to leave. Law is not a pick and mix sweeties shop for politicians to just use as and when they please and ignore the rest of it. They should implement the whole law properly, not just pick bits of procedural law to use against refugees, and if they don’t start applying the most relevant legal instruments for refugee protection in case of Mass Influxes, Greece should stop doing the rest of Europe’s dirty work.

People have a right to leave any country, including their own — the most forgotten human right in the ECHR! Article 3 — basically, you can apply regular administrative procedures at borders, but you can’t use those laws to detain people indefinitely when they want to leave a country. Turkey should never have been stopping people leaving. And Greece would have a perfectly reasonable legal argument for why they are opening the borders for refugees to leave again, like in 2015, unless the rest of the EU agrees to manage it in an orderly, regular way through the proper legal procedures for Mass Influxes.

Lapsed biologist retraining as a social data scientist, often writing about refugee rights advocacy and political philosophy.

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