Friday, 22 February, 2019

Concerns grow over safety of migrants after European Union summit

EU Summit Angela Merkel EPAEU Summit Italy has scuppered Angela Merkel's migration statement hopes
Melinda Barton | 01 July, 2018, 12:07

The results may have saved Chancellor Angela Merkel's government, as her coalition ally was demanding a tougher line on migrants.

The idea echoes discussions elsewhere in the developed world, including in the United States, on how to outsource the contentious asylum process and cut down on the flow of arrivals.

Twelve hours after talks began, at 4.30 CET, Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter that "EU28 leaders have agreed on... conclusions" including migration.

In a final statement full of convoluted language created to appease the divergent views, the leaders agreed to restrict migrant moves within the bloc but made clear virtually all of their pledges would be carried out on a "voluntary basis" by member states. Those rescued at sea could be returned to those centers for screening, not brought to Europe.

The summit has ended in favor of Visegrad Courtiers' migration approach.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reporters when leaving the meeting that "Italy is no longer alone after this European summit".

The leaders also agreed to tighten their external border more, increase financing for Turkey, Morocco and Northern African states to prevent migration to Europe.

European Union leaders clinched a crucial migration deal during all-night talks Friday that Italy's hardline new premier said meant his country was "no longer alone" in shouldering the responsibility for migrants.

'It is extremely disappointing that the European Union is not capable of finding solutions which contribute to the protection of refugees, ' the organisation said.

In the end, European Union leaders found solidarity around a range of temporary solutions, especially in relieving pressure on member states along the Mediterranean Sea that bear the brunt of migrants sailing from Africa and the Middle East - an estimated 54,000 so far this year.

"I'm not anxious about the [Italian] veto, but I'm anxious about the situation on the coast of Italy, so we have to show solidarity".

Although the number of migrants seeking refuge in Europe has slowed dramatically since peaking in 2015, the issue remains deeply divisive.

Mr Varadkar has said reception centres for migrants should be run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and warned there could be no equivocation over trafficking.

The Council promises now that there will be a report on progress on these two issues during the October European Council.

Merkel is now facing one of the most serious crises in her government since the 2015 refugee influx as herInterior Minister Horst Seehofer threatens to close Germany's borders over her protests.

"The EU will continue to stand by Italy and other frontline Member States in this respect".

Early Thursday evening, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Conte set aside 45 minutes for a chat, only to break it off after 20 minutes when the Italian leader rejected the German leader's overtures, according to diplomats. "And these are the same people who have shot at us, who have kidnapped us", said Astral Captain Riccardo Gatti.

The summit conclusions called on member countries to take "all necessary" steps to stop migrants initially arriving in countries such as Italy and Greece from moving on to Germany. The second, he said, would be the deportation of those who are already in Europe but do not qualify as refugees.

Asked if Austria would open a centre, Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz said: "Of course not. we are not a first arrival country, unless people jump from parachutes".

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel added: "Deal agreed on migration".