European Union leaders to hold mini-migration summit as crisis festers

25 Juin, 2018, 20:52 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Macron Attacks Italy’s New Govt Warns Euroscepticism Is Spreading ‘Like Leprosy’			LUDOVIC MARIN  AFP  Getty Images		22 Jun 2018

Sixteen EU heads of state and government held an emergency summit in Brussels on Sunday (24 June) to discuss migration - a crisis with a destructive potential for the EU.

He has called for the establishment of closed centres to keep asylum seekers in countries of arrival until their claims are processed - a proposal that Italy furiously rejected, saying it did not want to be turned into "a refugee camp for all of Europe".

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte agreed to attend Sunday's meeting only after Merkel had assured him a draft leaders' statement prepared by the European Commission and circulated on Wednesday would be put aside.

But Italy's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said his country had faced 650,000 arrivals by sea over the past four years, 430,000 asylum requests and the hosting of 170,000 "alleged refugees" for an overall cost of more than 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion).

There are deep divisions over who should take responsibility for arriving migrants, how long they should be required to accommodate them, and what should be done to help those European Union countries hardest hit like Italy and Greece. "We can proudly say, that Germany is now a very different country than it was before the AfD moved into the German national Parliament".

French President Emmanuel Macron urged his counterparts to take advantage of the sharp drop in migrant arrivals since a 2015 peak - Europe's worst such crisis since World War II - to find solutions.

Merkel, who is battling a domestic political crisis with her coalition partners over migration, said she was seeking "bilateral and trilateral" deals to cope with short-term migration pressures. She said the hope is to see if "we can reach bi-, tri- or even multinational agreements to better solve certain problems".

Before the summit, Italy branded Mr Macron "public enemy number one" after the French president said there was no "crisis" of migration in Italy because migrant boat arrivals are down 80pc on a year ago.

He he had contacted the Dutch ambassador about the Dutch-register Mission Lifeline's activities, adding that the migrants 'will only see Italy on a postcard'.

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"We understand there are domestic political difficulties in some countries but that can not lead to pan-European haste", Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an apparent dig at Merkel. "We must not give in".

"We know that at the European Council, unfortunately, we will not have a complete solution of the migration issue", Merkel said before the meeting started.

Despite the different perspectives, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said, "progress is possible on Thursday".

Plans to set up migrant reception centers in Albania are also under discussion. Libya, which was plunged into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled strongman Muammar Gaddafi, remains the primary point of departure for asylum seekers to Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday (21 June) populism was spreading across Europe like a disease that Europeans should fight more vigorously instead of criticising the actions of pro-European governments like his.

There was also some support for screening African migrants heading to Europe in North Africa and the Balkans, an idea that has sparked some concern about migrant rights, particularly after a 2016 European Union migrant deal with Turkey.

The Aquarius, operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, took the migrants to Spain, travelling an additional 932 miles, after Italy and Malta refused to let them land.

Like everything to do with migrants in Europe lately, even this meeting is proving controversial.

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