France Calls For Sanctions On European Union States Refusing To Accept Migrants
28 June, 2018, 13:58 | Author: Charlene Valdez
Three years after a large influx of migrants and asylum-seekers, the vexed issue of migration has become a popular populist issue and threatens to topple the long reign of Europe's most prominent leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
As tensions rise between Rome and Paris as well as Rome and Berlin, the top-level talks are created to help clear the heavy air for a previously scheduled full summit of all European Union leaders on Thursday and Friday.
This is anathema to the usually flexible Merkel as it would undermine her open-door migrant policy and be a major setback to the EU's Schengen free border system.
His country has proposed the European Multilevel Strategy for Migration, in which it country "wants to tackle the problem in a structured way, because that is what public opinion is telling us", Conte said.
New arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers coming to Europe via the Mediterranean have dropped by more than half this year compared with the same period in 2017, according to the United Nations migration agency: 40,944 people as of Wednesday.
The centres would be set up near to where migrants often arrive first in Europe.
Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron held out little hope they would be able to gather all 28 nations behind a single immigration plan at the upcoming summit.
Europe would beef up its own border force, he said, and strengthen efforts to work with countries like Libya and Balkan states, through which many migrants travel.
The lack of any quick agreement is an issue for Merkel as her coalition allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), who have given her only two weeks to find a European solution to the crisis or she could face the collapse of the government and be forced out of the Chancellery.
"That is why there will be bilateral and trilateral agreements, how can we help each other - not always wait for all 28 members but think about what is important to whom", she said.
Paradoxically, the EU's immigration policies are receiving renewed attention as the number of newcomers reaching Europe has dropped significantly.
New Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte presented a plan that argues existing European Union asylum rules are obsolete and "paradoxical".
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Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini quickly hailed the news that a second migrant ship he had turned away would be taken in elsewhere.
Political developments in Italy, a major migrant landing point, and in wealthy Germany, their top destination, have brought the EU's political crisis back.
In answer to comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, who said migration flows towards Europe had declined compared with a few years ago, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Macron's words showed he was out of touch.
The statements from the French president come in the wake of Italy's new populist government declaring that its ports were closed to arriving migrants on foreign-flagged rescue ships.
Aid groups say conditions for migrants and refugees on the shores of Libya are atrocious and accuse Italy of being complicit in the abuse of those migrants.
Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic - the so-called Visegrad Four countries - have said they will boycott the mini-summit because of opposition to calls from Western EU counterparts, particularly Germany, for all member states to "share the burden" and accept a quota of migrants.
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As with everything linked to migration in Europe, even the meeting in Brussels did not please everybody.
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