Macron: Sanction EU countries refusing to accept migrants

28 June, 2018, 00:31 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has become the public face of Italy's new unbending line on migrants

The 16 leaders - representing more than half of the 28-member European Union - are taking part in the informal talks that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said will involve "talking with particularly affected nations about all problems connected with migration".

The talks were "frank and open", but "we don't have any concrete consequences or conclusions", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.

Instead, Conte proposed creating "international protection centers" that would screen asylum requests in common countries of transit but that would not obligate the countries of first arrival.

On Saturday, Salvini called French President Emmanuel Macron "arrogant" and warned that France would not "transform Italy into Europe's refugee camp".

The Italians, Greeks and Spaniards have recently borne the brunt of migrants coming from the Middle East and Africa, even after migrant boat travel to Greece from Turkey has been curtailed through a special deal promoted by the Germans.

The unity of the heads of the interior Ministry of Italy, Germany and Austria's migration policy Kurtz has called the "axis of freedom" (or "axis of the willing" - the axis of willing) and announced further cooperation between the three countries on this problem. She faces firm and serious opposition within her own government, which can no longer stand the idea of having to cope with the tidal wave of migrants.

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But Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Lifeline "broke rules" by ignoring Italy's directions and should move towards its original destination "to prevent escalation".

A populist backlash over her liberal asylum policy left Merkel weakened in elections previous year.

After hours of discussion Sunday, Merkel emerged speaking of increased "goodwill" and a good discussion, which would have been impossible given the time constraints of a normal summit.

The arrival of more than one million people in 2015, most fleeing wars in Syria and Iraq, exposed glaring deficiencies in European Union migrant reception capacities and asylum laws.

"We all agree that we want to reduce illegal migration, that we want to protect our borders and that we are all responsible for all topics", Merkel said.

According to Mission Lifeline, who rescued 224 migrants at sea, they are still seeking a port of destination.

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Under its new anti-migrant government, Italy has refused to let aid groups dock in Italian ports, arguing they are encouraging smugglers.

The arrival of more than one million migrants sparked the backlash that drove the rise of the anti-Islam AfD, at the expense of all mainstream parties including Merkel's CDU. The decline is even starker compared with 2016: It equals just 19 per cent of the same period in 2016.

The groups, which have been chartering boats to rescue migrants, point to the very hard conditions for migrants in Libya as they attempt to reach Europe on the perilous Mediterranean crossing. Last year, Italy made a similar bargain with Libya.

"We know that no solution will be reached on Thursday and Friday at the level of the 28 member states. on the overall issue of migration", she said on a visit to Lebanon.

Merkel is now pushing other European Union states, including Italy, to do more on migration so that fewer people get to Germany and she can convince the CSU not to go ahead with their plan.

"These boats can forget about reaching Italy, I want to stop the business of trafficking and mafia", said Salvini, whose country is on the frontline of the migrant crisis.

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"At this moment, the only thing that can be done is laying the groundwork of what a consensus could look like in the future", said Marie de Somer, a migration expert at the European Policy Center, a Brussels-based think-tank.

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