Question to the Commission on pushbacks from Italy to Greece

A week ago Lighthouse Reports published a report on the results of their research on pushbacks on tourist ferries from Italy to Greece. They found evidence that asylum seekers, including children, are held in unofficial prisons – sometimes handcuffed – during the crossing in the belly of passenger ships. SRF and ARD Monitor were also involved in the research and have reported on it in television reports. 

On January 25, together with five other Green MEPs, I submitted a written question to the European Commission. I would like to know to what extent these illegal pushbacks from Italy to Greece are compatible with EU asylum law, and what follow-up investigations are planned from the Commission to investigate this matter. Another question is about the bilateral readmission agreement between Italy and Greece from 1999 and whether this agreement is at all in line with the EU acquis. 

You can find my collected written questions to the Commission and the answers here.

My request

Lighthouse Reports, together with SRF, ARD Monitor, Al Jazeera, Il Domani and Solomon, published a report on January 18, 2023, documenting the practice of illegal pushbacks on passenger ships from Italy to Greece. Evidence shows that asylum seekers apprehended by Italian authorities in Adriatic ports are not able to claim asylum upon arrival, but are detained in port and then pushed back to Greece. Reports from individuals of Afghan, Syrian, or Iraqi origin indicate that they have been detained, handcuffed, and confined in confined spaces in segregated facilities on passenger ships during their deportation from Italy to Greece. 

  1. In the European Commission's view, to what extent is this practice compatible with the EU acquis on asylum?
  2. Is the bilateral readmission agreement between IT and GR compatible with the EU acquis?
  3. What follow-up action does the European Commission intend to take following the above report?