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Greek policemen at a fence along the Evros River

Photo: Byron Smith / Getty Images

For years, the EU Commission has been urging Greece to improve border protection – with limited success. Now the Brussels authority is sharpening the tone. In a 41-page letter obtained by SPIEGEL, the Commission calls on the Greek government to finally remedy a long list of grievances.

For example, the latest action plan submitted by Greece is not sufficient to fulfil even basic tasks – including the strategic planning of border control capabilities, a viable personnel plan or a risk analysis that includes all national authorities and organises their cooperation. Athens should also "urgently" adopt a "national emergency plan for mass border crossings," according to the letter from Migration Director-General Monique Pariat to Greek Civil Protection Minister Panagiotis Theodorikakos.

Some of the deficits have been addressed again and again since 2016, the Frenchwoman criticized – and ordered Athens to submit a progress report within a month and then twice a year. The first was received in Brussels at the end of March. It does contain some improvements, says a Commission spokeswoman.

However, the authority is still not satisfied: they have already requested further information for the next progress report. However, this is not due until the end of September. The Commission also wants to see for itself the implementation of its demands on the ground. In the second half of this year and in 2025, "review visits" will be organized, Pariat wrote, "to assess the measures taken to implement the priority recommendations in particular."

The government in Athens has long been criticized for the conditions at Greece's external borders, such as the illegal practice of deporting refugees directly out of the country without a lawful asylum procedure.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson called on the Greek government in July last year to end these so-called pushbacks – apparently without success. Just recently, a video surfaced documenting how refugees were brought back to sea from Greece and abandoned on a raft.