ATHENS – Greece is confident that its man on the new European Commission, Dimitris Avramopoulos, will get the new job of overseeing the immigration, human rights and interior portfolios.
Illegal immigration is a crucial problem in Greece which has seen a skyrocketing increase in the number of people coming from Mideast conflicts, Afghanistan, Iraq and fleeing Africa, most coming by sea, with many overcrowded craft capsizing or sinking with loss of life.
The new President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, is due to announce the new lineup this week after naming the 27 commissioners, including the minimum of nine women that he wanted.
Avramopoulos met Juncker in Brussels and Kathimerini said it was agreed the outgoing Greek defense minister would take over the new portfolio even though the Greek government has been highly critical of the European Union for not providing enough assistance to deal with waves of illegal immigrants who just keep coming.
Athens is very pleased by this development as it is keen to see the European Union revise the Dublin II Regulation, which requires asylum applications to be examined by the country where the applicants entered the EU.
Greece feels this places an unfair burden on southern European countries. The government also wants Brussels to step up its efforts to deal with irregular immigration.
The only job announced so far, that of EU diplomatic chief, went to Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini. Former French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici and Finland’s ex-Premier Jyrki Katainen are favorites for the post of Economic Affairs Commissioner.
Juncker, a former Premier of Luxembourg, has a team includes four other former heads of government: Katainen, former Estonian Premier Andrus Ansip, ex-Lithuanian Premier Valdis Dombrovskis and one-time Slovenian PM Alenka Bratusek.
There are also 13 ministers or former ministers and six European commissioners from the outgoing setup. Juncker’s appointments will also have to be approved by the European Parliament next month, expected to be a formality.