- EU States to Return Migrants to Greece From March
The EU recommended Thursday that member states resume sending asylum seekers back to Greece from March next year, after transfers were halted for five years because of poor conditions there.
Brussels said it was a key step towards restoring the European Union’s migration policies and the passport-free Schengen zone, which nearly collapsed under the pressure of the 2015 migrant crisis.
But rights group Amnesty International said it was “outrageously hypocritical” to put pressure on Greece when it had borne the lion’s share of the more than one million migrants who have flooded into the EU.
“We are recommending the gradual resumption of Dublin transfers of asylum seekers starting next year” from March 15, EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told a press conference.
Avramopoulos said Athens had made “significant progress” in improving conditions for asylum seekers in line with 2011 court rulings, which had suspended transfers because of “degrading” conditions at time in Greece.
The commissioner, who is Greek, insisted there would be a “very small number of people” going back to Greece as a result of the change announced Thursday.
Only people who move countries from Greece after March 15 will be affected, while unaccompanied minors and vulnerable people will be excluded, he added.
Greece and Italy have been the first point of entry for most of the more than one million migrants who have entered the bloc since 2015 fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
– ‘Outrageously hypocritical’ –
Under the EU’s Dublin asylum rules, the country where a migrant first lands must first process their asylum request, and must also take them back if they travel to other countries in the 28-nation bloc.
But many of those who landed in Greece moved on to richer northern countries like Germany, especially after Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the door to all Syrian refugees.
In turn, that huge pressure on transit countries, leading to many to bring back border controls and effectively suspending free movement in the Schengen area.
Merkel led calls to overhaul what she called the “obsolete” asylum system, and Brussels has since pushed all EU countries to share the migrant burden, while sending aid to Greece.
But there has been heavy opposition from Eastern Europe and a scheme to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy around the bloc has moved at a snail’s pace with only 8,162 having moved so far.
Greece is however benefiting from an deal with EU membership-candidate Turkey which has drastically cut the number of refugees and migrants making the dangerous sea crossing to the Greek islands.
Crossing have dropped to 90 a day from 1,740 before the March 20 EU-Turkey deal, the European Commission said.
Under the deal, 748 people, including 95 Syrians, have been returned from Greece to Turkey since March 20, while 2,761 Syrian refugees have been resettled from Turkey to Europe.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has however threatened to sink the deal amid tensions with Europe.
Amnesty’s Iverna McGowan slammed the commission for implying that Greece alone is to blame for the poor conditions.
“It seems that for the European Commission all roads for refugees lead to Greece,” McGowan said in statement.
“It is outrageously hypocritical of the European Commission to insinuate that Greece alone is to blame for dire conditions, when the overcrowding and insecure climate on the Greek islands are for the most part caused by the EU-Turkey deal,” she said.
The conditions — including overcrowding, freezing temperatures and violence — were compounded by a “lack of solidarity from other EU countries to relocate people”, she added.
Crude Oil Pulled Back Despite Joe Biden Stimulus
Crude oil pulled back on Friday despite the $1.9 trillion stimulus package announced by U.S President-elect, Joe Biden.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, pulled back from $57.38 per barrel on Wednesday to $55.52 per barrel on Friday in spite of the huge stimulus package announced on Thursday.
On Thursday, OPEC, in its latest outlook for the year, said uncertainties remain high in 2021 with the number of COVID-19 new cases on the rise.
OPEC said, “Uncertainties remain high going forward with the main downside risks being issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior.”
“These will also include how many countries are adapting lockdown measures, and for how long. At the same time, quicker vaccination plans and a recovery in consumer confidence provide some upside optimism.”
Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns, with vaccinations not expected to have a significant impact for the next few months.
“The complex remains in pause mode, a development that should not be surprising given the magnitude of the oil price gains that have been developing for some 2-1/2 months,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said.
Still, OPEC left its crude oil projections unchanged for the year. The oil cartel expected global oil demand to increase by 5.9 million barrels per day year on year to an average of 95.9 million per day in 2020.
But also OPEC expects a recent rally and stimulus to boost U.S. Shale crude oil production in the year, a projection Investors King experts expect to hurt OPEC strategy in 2021.
OPEC Says Uncertainties Remain High in 2021
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Thursday said global uncertainties remained high going forward in 2021 but kept its oil demand forecast unchanged.
In the cartel’s latest oil outlook for 2021, oil demand is expected to increase by 5.9 million barrels per day year on year to 95.9 million barrels per day. The prediction was unchanged from December’s assessment.
However, OPEC and allies, said: “Uncertainties remain high going forward with the main downside risks being issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior.”
Crude oil rose to $57 per barrel this week after incoming US President Joe Biden announced it would inject $1.9 trillion stimulus into the world’s largest economy.
But the recent rally in the commodity and stimulus announcement is expected to boost US crude oil output and disrupt OPEC+ production cuts strategy for the year.
“The 2021 supply outlook is now slightly more optimistic for U.S. shale with oil prices increasing, and output is expected to recover more in the second half of 2021,” OPEC said.
Still, OPEC, in its forecast “assumes a healthy recovery in economic activities including industrial production, an improving labour market and higher vehicle sales than in 2020.”
“Accordingly, oil demand is anticipated to rise steadily this year supported primarily by transportation and industrial fuels,” the group said.
Brent Crude Oil Rose to $56.25 Per Barrel
Oil price surged following the declaration of Joe Biden as the President-elect of the United States of America last week after Trump’s mob invaded Capitol to disrupt a joint Senate session.
Also, the large drop in US crude inventories helped support crude oil price to over 11 months despite the second wave of COVID-19 crushing the world from Asia to Europe to America.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian Crude oil is priced, rose to $56.25 per barrel on Friday before pulling back to $55.422 per barrel on Monday during the London trading session.
Experts attributed the pullback to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Asia with about 11 million people already locked down in Hebei province in China.
“Covid hot spots flaring again in Asia, with 11 million people (in) lockdowns in China Hebei province… along with a touch of FED policy uncertainty has triggered some profit taking out of the gates this morning,” Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi, said in a note on Monday.
China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, has joined the United Kingdom and others declaring full or partial lockdown to curb the second wave of COVID-19.
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