EU migrant crisis: What is being done?

The number of first-time asylum seekers in the EU in the first quarter of 2015 increased by 86 percent compared with the first three months of 2014. How is the EU handling the migration crisis?

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Two migrants look toward a giant passenger ferry while it arrives at the Greek holiday island of Kos on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, to provide temporary accommodation for some thousands of refugees.

As the Greek government attempts to ease chaotic conditions on the island of Kos, which has become crowded with Syrians and other migrants, a passenger ship has docked on the island to be used as a registration center and accommodation for migrants.

The Eleftherios Venizelos will be used as a reception facility for migrants to apply for the documents they need to travel to other parts of Europe, the BBC reported. However, critics view the ship as a detention facility.

The vessel could provide temporary shelter for up to 2,500 people.

In recent weeks, Greece has become the main point of entry for migrants seeking to reach Europe by boat.

This week, in an attempt to round up migrants from makeshift camps around the island of Kos, local authorities locked up to 2,500 refugees in a stadium for nearly 24 hours, The Guardian reported. About 1,000 of the refugees were trapped inside a playground with no access to water or shade and a further 1,500 were put in a separate section with some protection from the sun.

In late July, the United Nations reported that Greece has overtaken Italy as top European gateway for migrants, with  the number of migrants arriving on Greek shores up by 408 percent over the first half of 2015 compared to the same period last year.

And it's not just Greece. According to Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency, the number of first-time asylum seekers in the EU in the first quarter of 2015 increased by 86 percent compared with the first three months of 2014.  

Europe does not act in unison on the issue of migrant influx. While in the wake of turmoil in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, some countries have agreed to consider less strict immigration measures, others are pursuing deterrent plans to stop the flow of illegal migrants.

Since 1999, the EU has been working on a Common European Asylum System, but putting them into practice has been a challenge. Each of the 28 member states have their own police force and judiciary. 

Currently, The Dublin Regulation is a core principle for handling asylum claims in the EU. It says the member state which played the greatest part in the applicant's entry or residence in the EU, is primarily responsible for examining the asylum application.

But now there are tensions in the EU over the Dublin Regulation. Athens says with so many migrants arriving in Greece first, it cannot go through all the applications, BBC reported.

At the moment, EU governments are arguing over a proposal to share refugees across 28 member states, under a quota system.

A new survey among 7,000 Europeans across seven countries shows that 54 percent agree there should be a quota system for distributing refugees across Europe, according to Politico.

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