ETUC urges emergency protection for refugees in meeting with Commissioner Johansson

The ETUC has used a meeting with the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner to call for protection to be offered to the thousands of displaced people at the Turkey-Greece border.

General Secretary Luca Visentini met with Ylva Johansson today, where he said the EU must treat the situation as a humanitarian emergency rather than a threat to Europe’s borders, ending unjustifiable violence towards vulnerable refugees.

The ETUC believes the EU and member states have a responsibility to safeguard vulnerable people displaced by the war in Syria and should offer temporary protection to them as set out under EU law*.

At the same time, the ETUC believes the situation shows once again that this Turkish government is not an ethical or reliable partner for cooperation over migration. The Commission should terminate its 2016 agreement with Turkey to prevent the 3 million displaced people within the country being used in political blackmail and find a new international solution.

Following the meeting, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said:

“This Turkish government has never been a reliable or ethical partner for cooperation on matters of migration and asylum and that is being badly exposed on the Greek border. The situation has been made worse by the violent response of the Greek authorities which must stop immediately.

“It’s time that the situation started being treated with a humanitarian approach rather than a border security issue. The people on the border have been displaced by war and require protection in conditions that respect their human rights and dignity.”

ETUC Confederal Secretary Ludovic Voet said:  

“The EU must use the powers already at its disposal to ensure the safety of refugees while redoubling efforts towards peace in the Middle East so that displaced people can finally have the confidence to voluntarily return to their homes. The EU should demonstrate a European way of solidarity by protecting people fleeing war rather than returning to a fortress Europe approach.”


Directive 2001/55  establishes “minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof.”