An audit conducted by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) on migration management in the EU has called for increased action by Member States.
The audit, which focused on the implementation and impact of migration management policies in Greece and Italy, examined the EU’s support for achieving migration goals and the efficacy of return and relocation schemes in both countries. Migration into the EU, which peaked in 2015, has remained at high levels; with increased applications for asylum leading to significant pressure on Member States’ resources.
The Auditors found that, while each country’s capacity for processing asylum claims had grown substantially, targets largely remained unmet and backlogs, bottlenecks and excessive claims handling times continued to pose a challenge. The EU, having set itself an initial target of relocating 160,000 migrants, agreed to relocate 98,256 individuals; however of these only 34,705 were actually relocated. The audit attributes this discrepancy primarily to an inability on the part of authorities in Greece and Italy to identify migrants who could potentially be considered eligible for relocation.
Greece, the Auditors noted, has increased its capacity to process applications for asylum; however, the extended facilities have not been sufficient to address the growing application backlog. Italy, meanwhile, is able to deal with first instance applications; but lacks the capacity to process the number of appeals against decisions in the first instance.
The Auditors’ report made a series of concrete recommendations for the overall improvement of migration management processes in Greece and Italy, including:
- Enhancing the management of asylum systems, return protocols and emergency support afforded to asylum claimants;
- Boosting the levels of support provided by the EU’s asylum support office (EASO);
- Deploying additional migration experts to enhance the implementation of asylum and return procedures; and
- Applying the lessons learned from previous relocation measures in implementing future voluntary relocation schemes.
Leo Brincat, the member of the Court of Auditors responsible for the report, said: “EU migration management in Greece and Italy was relevant, but has not reached its full potential. It is time to step up action to address disparities between objectives and results.”