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Press Release: Access of Refugee Children to Education in Greece

Press Release: Access of Refugee Children to Education in Greece



The European Commission requests from the Greek Government to give full access to the education system to all minors granted international protection, under the same conditions as Greek nationals

• The European Commission answered a question on the access of refugee children to the educational process, raised by 29 MEPs from 4 political groups in the European Parliament.
• According to EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, “member-states are also encouraged to make full use of EU funding to support programs and measures related to education”, without, specifying whether Greece is making use of these funding opportunities or if relevant funds are allocated to Greece and whether they are used properly.
• Mariya Gabriel: “In applying these Directives, member-states must ensure compliance with fundamental rights, including the right to education enshrined in Article 14 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

The European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, replied to a question regarding refugee children and their access to the education process. The question was co-signed by 29 MEPs from 4 political groups in the European Parliament and 11 different member -states at the initiative of Kostas Arvanitis and the support of the SYRIZA - Progressive Alliance delegation.
On the very fundamental question whether the European Commission can confirm the actual number of refugee and migrant children who do not have access to the national education system in Greece, the European Commission provides a procedural list of data on the number of children enrolled in the Greek schools this school year.
In fact, by contrasting the data of the registrations that emerge from the data on which the question was based, the Commissioner chooses not to go into the essence of the question, which is, whether the educational process is implemented in practice for these children. In a relevant report of the Ombudsman, it is outlined the bad image of the access of refugee children to the Public Educational Process.
However, the Commissioner cannot avoid setting out in detail the context in which Greece is obliged to move, a framework that explicitly requires "full access to the education system to all minors granted international protection, under the same conditions as nationals", something that is explicitly provided for the children for whom the request for asylum is pending, but without being clearly placed in the essence of the question whether the Greek Government moves within or outside this framework.
In addition, the Commissioner pointed out that “member-states are also encouraged to make full use of EU funding to support programs and measures related to education”, without, of course, specifying whether Greece is making use of these funding opportunities or if relevant funds are allocated to Greece and whether they are used properly.
In the last paragraph of her answer, Commissioner Gabriel implicitly admits that the EU authorities are exerting pressure on the Greek Government to fulfil its obligations to the refugee children, as she stated “the recently established European Taskforce for Migration Management in Greece meets regularly to facilitate access to formal and non-formal education for all refugee and migrant children”, without, of course, specifying what “facility” offers to a member-state in a coordinated and adequate way until the summer of 2019. In other words, what additional “facility” does a government need to continue a long-established policy for the access of the refugee children to the educational process?
It is worth noting that among the 29 MEPs who co-sign the question, stand out the names of:
• Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR, (Spain/S&D) Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs)
• Erik MARQUARDT (Germany/Greens)
• Dietmar KÖSTER (Germany/S&D)
• STRIK Tineke (The Netherlands/ Greens)

You can find below the question in full as well as the complete list of MEPs who are co-signing: 18 members from the Left Group, 6 members from the S&D, 2 members from the Renew and 3 members from the Greens:
Question for written answer E-001357/2021
to the Commission
Rule 138
Konstantinos Arvanitis (The Left), Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D), Dimitrios Papadimoulis (The Left), Petros Kokkalis (The Left), Elena Kountoura (The Left), Stelios Kouloglou (The Left), Pernando Barrena Arza (The Left), Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (Renew), Damien Carême (Verts/ALE), Clare Daly (The Left), Cornelia Ernst (The Left), Giorgos Georgiou (The Left), José Gusmão (The Left), Petra Kammerevert (S&D), Niyazi Kizilyürek (The Left), Dietmar Köster (S&D), Erik Marquardt (Verts/ALE), Marisa Matias (The Left), Karen Melchior (Renew), Alessandra Moretti (S&D), Anne-Sophie Pelletier (The Left), Manuel Pizarro (S&D), Eugenia Rodríguez Palop (The Left), Tineke Strik (Verts/ALE), Miguel Urbán Crespo (The Left), Idoia Villanueva Ruiz (The Left), Nikolaj Villumsen (The Left), Mick Wallace (The Left), Milan Brglez (S&D)
Answer in writing
Subject: Access of refugee children to education

The Greek Government is practically excluding refugee and migrant children from formal education, especially those living in reception and identification centers (hotspots and camps). Information from people and organization’s working in the field indicates that multiple obstacles are completely undermining these children’s access to the national education system, either in person (the traditional way) or through distance learning (during the pandemic). Two years ago, the number of such minors attending school was around 16 000. Last year the number plummeted to about 7 000, and is now estimated to be close to zero. This constitutes a violation of their fundamental right to education and is a clear act of discrimination against migrants and refugees.

1. Can the Commission confirm the actual number of refugee and migrant children who do not have access to the national education system in Greece?
2. Is this practice compatible with Article 2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Article 14 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 2 of Protocol No 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 27 of Directive 2011/95/EU and Article 14 of Directive 2013/33/EU?
3. How does the Commission plan to intervene to ensure that all children enjoy all the relevant fundamental rights in practice?

Supporter(1)
(1) This question is supported by a Member other than the authors: Alexis Georgoulis (The Left)


You can find the answer of the Commissioner, Mrs. Mariya Gabriel, below:
Answer given by Ms Gabriel
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-001357/2021
In the school year 2020-2021, 11.830 migrant children are enrolled in Greek schools. Of these: 3 142 are enrolled in classes under the Reception Facilities for Refugee Education scheme; 7.535 are enrolled in schools without reception classes; and 1.153 are enrolled in schools with reception classes.

The Reception Conditions Directive(1) provides that minor children who apply for international protection must be ensured access to education under similar conditions as nationals within three months from the date of lodging their application(2).
Moreover, based on the Qualifications Directive(3), Member States must grant full access to the education system to all minors granted international protection, under the same conditions as nationals. In applying these Directives, Member States must ensure compliance with fundamental rights, including the right to education enshrined in Article 14 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Commission has underlined on several occasions(4), including in the recently adopted EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, that additional and targeted protection and support is required for migrant children, including in education.
The action plan on Integration and Inclusion(5) also includes measures to ensure that more migrant children participate in high quality and inclusive early childhood education and care. Member States are also encouraged to make full use of EU funding to support programs and measures related to education.
The Commission has been monitoring the situation and works closely with the Greek authorities. The recently established European Taskforce for Migration Management in Greece meets regularly to facilitate access to formal and non-formal education for all refugee and migrant children.


(1) Article 14 of Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013.
(2) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32013L0033 ; The recast of the Reception Conditions Directive currently under discussion by the co-legislators since 2016 would bring more harmonised rules and improved reception conditions for asylum applicants, including better access to education for child migrants. In line with the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Commission calls on the co-legislators to adopt this proposal without further delay.
(3) Article 27 of Directive 2011/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011.
(4) Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the protection of children in migration COM(2017) 211 final ; Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, The Council, The European Economic And Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the EU strategy on the rights of the child COM/2021/142 final
(5) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=COM:2020:758:FIN



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