The situation in the refugee camps on the Greek islands has been disastrous long before the threat of a COVID 19 pandemic and the fire at the Moria refugee camp in September 2020. Calls from policymakers and civil society to evacuate the camps – which the European Union designated as hotspots in 2015 – have been growing.
Despite considerable financial resources and personnel support from EU agencies in receiving and registering asylum seekers arriving on the islands, efficient asylum procedures remain elusive and reception and accommodation standards in the hotspots are extremely poor. Seemingly ‘obvious’ solutions – such as transfers to mainland Greece or other member states – have so far had little effect.
The project “Closing Moria?” examines the factors that are causing the situation in the Greek hotspots and that stand in the way of attempts to resolve it. To this end, the paper analyses aspects of Greek and European asylum policy, among others. The new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, which was presented by the European Commission on 23 September 2020, emphasises border procedures and accelerated asylum processing as central elements of European asylum policy. An analysis of the Greek hotspots and their structural and implementation challenges is thus all the more relevant with regard to the further development of European asylum policy. The project is based on literature research, policy documents and expert interviews. Research results were published in March 2021 in the form of a policy brief in German and English.