Mini-migration summit: European Union nations try to resolve differences
28 June, 2018, 13:55 | Author: Mable Gonzales
The EU struck a cash-for-repatriation deal with Turkey in March 2016 and engaged Lybian coast guard in cracking down on migrant trafficking, following the peak year of 2015 which saw more than one million irregular migrants flocking to Europe via different routes.
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, shakes hands with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez after a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace on Saturday.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has conceded "no solution will be reached" on the overall migration issue at either summit.
Italy, which lies close to Libya, has taken in 650,000 boat migrants since 2014.
The discussion, noted Macron, ruled out "solutions that are not consistent with our values or global rights", such as pushing back refugees.
The Italian government, in particular, has begun to turn away ships containing migrants rescued at sea, forcing them to try to find other countries to land their human cargo.
Merkel convinced a reluctant Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to attend Sunday's talks by telling him pre-written conclusions had been withdrawn, Italian officials said.
The proposal, seen by this website, broadly aims to stop people from ever reaching Italy and Europe by shoring up borders and outsourcing asylum.
The idea builds on current projects in Libya and Niger where refugees are either being resettled or sent home under the auspices of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
He has also suggested the NGO's second ship, the Seefuchs, should also be impounded.
"But we will always have legitimate asylum seekers who are entitled to our help. The rescue obligation can not become an obligation to process applications on behalf of all", notes the plan.
Merkel, who is under pressure in Germany to move forward on the issue, had pressed for the meetings ahead of a previously planned European Union summit of all 28-bloc members on June 28-29. The feud has weakened their unity and undermined Europe's Schengen free-travel area.
However, the mood remains tense.
Merkel's Bavarian allies (CSU) have threatened to defy her wishes and start turning away people at the German border who have already registered for asylum in other European Union states, a dispute that threatens her ruling coalition. Her coalition partner is pushing for firmer action that could break her government.
On Sunday, the French president told reporters that France "doesn't need to take any lessons from anyone", in reference to Salvini's salvo on "French arrogance".
French President Emmanuel Macron seemed to offer Merkel his cautious backing, saying while the solution to migration should be "European", it could be built through the cooperation of all EU members or just several deciding to go together. He has also said that he favors punishing member states that do not show solidarity on the migrant issue. Under the EU's so-called Dublin rules, asylum-seekers must be processed in the country where they first arrive, usually Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain.
As EU leaders prepare to discuss immigration policy in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, Italy's refusal to accept charity-run rescue ships has stranded hundreds of Africans at sea, their rescuers waiting for an EU country to accept them.
The conundrum has so far evaded European Union level efforts for the past two years.
Despite the different perspectives, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said, "progress is possible on Thursday".
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