Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria expected to highlight to EU that the migration problem isn’t just about Italy and Malta

epa07902854 A woman feeds her baby after disembarking from the ferry 'Nissos Samos' upon her arrival from Lesvos island to the port of Piraeus, Greece, 07 October 2019. The ferry arrived in Piraeus carrying 453 refugees and migrants from Moria, Lesvos and 13 from Chios Island, from the so-called vulnerable groups asking for asylum, who will be transferred to the village of Vagiohori, close to lake Volvi, in central Macedonia. The Moria reception and identification centre currently hosts 13,300 people, 1,000 of which are unaccompanied minors. EPA-EFE/YANNIS KOLESIDIS

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The EU’s migration plans should focus on the Eastern Mediterranean, not just Italy and Malta, three EU countries will say this week.

In a document, seen by POLITICO, that will be presented at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday, Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria complain that “in recent months the attention of EU Member States has been mainly focused on the Central Mediterranean, which has been thoroughly discussed at three ministerial meetings [in Helsinki, Paris and Valletta].”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the interior ministers will discuss a deal reached last month by Germany, France, Italy and Malta for a voluntary temporary relocation mechanism for asylum seekers rescued in the Central Mediterranean. Those four countries would like other member states to sign up to the scheme they drew up in Malta, and see it as first step toward a more comprehensive EU migration pact.

While they don’t mention the Malta deal in their document, Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria say the “latest figures verify that the biggest challenge Europe is faced with comes from the Eastern Mediterranean route.” They call for “an effective mechanism for relocation of persons arriving to front-line Member States along all migratory routes, when their capacity is either exhausted or overstretched.


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