Establishment and mission
The Task Force was set up within the European Commission’s Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) in the aftermath of the fires which destroyed the Moria facility on the Greek island of Lesvos. The mission of the Task Force is the coordination of the Union’s work on all strategic, operational, legal and financial issues linked to migration management.
How it works
The Task Force works in a matrix approach, tapping into established resources in DG HOME’s relevant units (policy, operational, financial) and cooperates closely with all other Commission services and EU agencies involved. Its work covers a wide range of coordination and support activities for Member States both in the Eastern and Southern external borders. The current mandate of the Task Force ends in September 2024. The Task Force has a coordinating and supporting function and does not change or replace the prime responsibility of the national authorities in migration management on their territory.
Key objectives of the Task Force Migration Management in Greece
- Construction of new reception centres on the Greek islands meeting European standards, with adequate and appropriate access to sanitation, taking into account the needs of all groups, and in particular those of women, children and families.
- Help ending the overcrowding in reception centres on the islands by supporting the transfer of vulnerable people to the mainland and the relocation of unaccompanied children and families with children to other EU countries.
- Support fast, effective procedures to decide swiftly on asylum applications, to achieve to have shorter stays on the islands, bring clarity and certainty to applicants and ensure smooth follow-up of decisions to go from asylum to either return or integration.
- Promoting increased voluntary returns of migrants to their country of origin, by making better use of the existing project for assisted voluntary return.
- Improving safety and security for migrants and asylum seekers.
- Full winterisation and appropriate sanitary and health conditions at the temporary facility on Lesvos, until the new reception centre on Lesvos is operational.
Since 2016, the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) has deployed permanent teams to Greece and Italy, which implement a ‘hotspots approach’ as envisaged in the EU Agenda for Migration of 2015.
Gradually, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, as migration diversified, operational support expanded to other Member States of first reception by stationing teams in Spain, Malta, and Cyprus.
The creation of the Task Force was announced at the same time as the Pact on Migration and Asylum. It was established following the incident of the fire which destroyed the overcrowded Moria facility on the Greek island of Lesvos on 23 September 2020 and in line with the framework proposed in the Pact, to work in close collaboration with EU Agencies and international organisations and help ensure that migration is managed in an effective way.
A priority action of the Task Force was to implement a Joint Pilot, agreed between the European Commission, the EU Agencies and the Greek authorities and implemented on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding.
The MoU sets out a cooperation framework to establish and bring into operation a new Multi-Purpose Reception and Identification Centre (MPRIC) in Lesvos.
The MoU is between the Commission and relevant EU Agencies which support migration management in Greece, namely the European Asylum Agency (EUAA), the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), and the Greek authorities.
The mandate of the Task Force is not geographically limited to a single Member State. The mission of the Task Force can cover for a wide range of coordination and support activities for Member states in need.
The Commission had staff posted in Greece and Italy since 2016 to support the implementation of the ‘hotspots approach’ as envisaged in the EU Agenda for Migration of 2015 and, later on, under the EBCGA and the EUAA Regulations. Gradually, between 2017 and 2019, as migration flows diversified, operational support through deployments by the Commission expanded to other Member States of first reception including Spain, Malta and Cyprus.
The experiences and lessons learnt on the ground, led to an understanding of the crucial role of effective cooperation between the Commission, the decentralised Agencies in the area of Migration and Home Affairs (in particular EUAA, Frontex, Europol, FRA), the national authorities involved in migration management, International Organisations active on the ground and feedback from civil society.
The consolidation of this approach appeared as particularly relevant, and was first tested with regard to Greece after the devastating fires that destroyed Moria, due to the pressing need to focus in particular on reception facilities on the islands, and in the context of the allocation of substantial additional funds to Greece.
Today, the Commission supports Member States operationally via teams of staff deployed on the ground, complemented by the work of the EU Agencies. Commission teams are posted in Greece, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Malta, Poland, while in Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania teams ensure frequent missions. These teams support the host countries to develop and implement migration management, asylum and reception systems in line with the EU acquis. In the eastern external borders, they work on supporting national authorities in addressing the migratory flows following the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
The Task Force acts as a “resource instigator”.
It works in close collaboration with the national authorities to coordinate the efforts and support for migration management at key parts of the EU’s external border.
It actively engages with the EU Agencies, which are also deployed in the relevant Member States and relevant stakeholders, local authorities, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, and with EU Member States and Schengen countries to find the right support for each migration management challenge.
- Memorandum of Understanding between the European Commission, Greek authorities and EU agencies on a joint pilot for the establishment of a new reception and identification centre in Lesvos