Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis on Tuesday attended a meeting of EU Mediterranean countries here calling for European Union solidarity to help them cope with the problems that stem from the massive inflow of illegal migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. 

The meeting was attended by the competent ministers of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain.

In a press conference, Papoutsis stated that a common European migration policy is imperative and changes are necessary in the Dublin II Regulation. He stressed that the EU was late in the implementation of the European strategy and in making the Mediterranean a region of cooperation and growth while focusing on environmental protection.

During the meeting, Papoutsis stated that the Dublin II Regulation is ineffective and needs changes because in its present form it creates serious problems and lays a disproportionately large burden on the countries at the EU external borders.

“Solidarity is a one-way street in facing the European problem of illegal migration. For example, 95 pct of the migrants entering Greece wish to move to other EU states,” he said.

Papoutsis stressed that dealing with the issue is a common responsibility and therefore, a cohesive policy on migration is necessary, as well as, a consistent asylum policy which currently is absent.

However, he stated that social solidarity was expressed to Greece when FRONTEX was ordered to monitor the Greek borders, as well as, in the case of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) put in operation a month ago.

As regards illegal migration and security issues, Papoutsis stated that Greece is an entry gate and a total of 132,000 illegal migrant were arrested last year alone. He also suggested that migrant smuggling rings should be tackled with determination on European level.