Germany has decided to hold off for a second consecutive year on sending asylum seekers back to Greece in an effort to relieve pressure on its European Union partner as it reforms its asylum system. Under the so-called Dublin procedure, EU countries return illegal migrants to the first EU country they entered. In most cases, that is Greece, on the bloc’s southeastern edge.
But Germany announced a year ago that it would conduct asylum proceedings itself for now rather than sending asylum applicants back. The Interior Ministry said it’s extending that through January 2014. A ministry statement said that, while there have been improvements, there are still “serious shortcomings” in the Greek asylum system that require further reforms — and Germany wants to give Greece room to complete them.
Immigrants seeking asylum in Greece have to go before a review board controlled by the police and the rate of approval has been as low as one in 10,000 making Greece the target of heavy criticism from human rights groups, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).