New figures contradict Timmermans’ economic migrants claim
Claims by the Netherlands’ European commissioner that 60% of refugees arriving in Europe are economic migrants are not born out by the facts, several media resources say on Friday.
The NRC says in its analysis of the latest figures from EU border agency Frontex that at least 64% of the refugees arriving in Greece come from a war zone such as Syria and Iraq. And including Afghan nationals, the total would be as high as 90%, the paper says.
Last year, 85% of asylum seekers came to the Netherlands via Greece, the paper says.
Frans Timmermans, who is the commission’s first vice president, told broadcaster Nos in an interview: ‘More than half of the people now coming to Europe come from countries where you can assume they have no reason whatsoever to ask for refugee status. More than half, 60%.’
In the main, they are people from Morocco and Tunisia who want to travel to Europe via Turkey, Nos quoted him as saying. Timmermans based his claim on the latest figures from European border agency Frontex which at that point had not been published.
A spokesman for Timmermans told the NRC the commissioner was referring to all entry points into Europe, not just the Greek islands as Nos reported.
The Frontex figures for December show that Syrians accounted for 39% of the total arrivals in Greece, a drop of over 10 percentage points on October. However, the proportion of Iraqis rose from 12% to 25%. Afghans account for around 24% of the mix.
Frontex staff detected more than 880 000 illegal border crossings in Greece in 2015, the organisation says.