Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Italian PM satisfied with 'right direction' at European Union migration summit

Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli criticised Malta on his Facebook page Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli criticised Malta on his Facebook page
Andrew Cummings | 28 June, 2018, 05:49

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

"Can't be that country that would greatly benefit from the solidarity of the EU, EN masse has stated on national egoism when it concerns the topic of migration", - said the French President.

At an informal meeting of 16 European Union leaders in Brussels, Giuseppe Conte called for shared European Union responsibility for rescued migrants and penalties for countries refusing to accept quotas. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia announced a boycott of the meeting.

Leaders of 16 European Union members are meeting in Brussels to discuss possible ways forward in a political crisis over migration which is causing deep rifts within the bloc.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the meeting produced "a lot of goodwill" to resolve differences over how to manage the refugees and economic migrants who are willing to risk their lives to reach Europe.

Instead, she said, "bilateral, trilateral and multilateral" deals must be reached to tackle the issue.

Their position, shared by Austria, stands in sharp contrast to a multiple-point plan outlined by Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte on Sunday that would increase responsibility for all EU countries in dealing with migrants, including handling asylum claims of those arriving on Italian and other European shores.

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini on Friday reiterated his hard line on immigration.

Chancellor for almost 13 years, Merkel needs to deliver some sort of a deal at the 28-29 June EU meeting to keep her Bavarian conservative allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), on board.

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To convince the CSU, Merkel needs deals to stop migrants trekking north, as well as to send back to the coastal states those people who make it to Germany against European Union rules.

But he has also had an uncompromising approach to migration, toughening checks at France's Riviera border with Italy and refusing to accept a ship filled with rescued migrants after Italy's new leaders turned it away earlier this month.

At the summit Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte supported France's suggestion to issue sanctions against countries rejecting their quotas of immigrants. Currently, migrants are processed in the state in which they arrive-something that has recently placed a lopsided burden on countries like Italy, where the migrant crisis has not abated as much as it has elsewhere.

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).

Late Friday and into Saturday morning, Spanish authorities rescued 569 migrants, thought to be mainly from North Africa, after they crossed the Mediterranean in leaky dinghies, a makeshift wooden raft, and a canoe.

Cooperation deals with Turkey and Libya, the main transit countries, have sharply cut, at least for now, the flow of migrants to Europe since a 2015 peak of over one million.

In this photo taken on Thursday, June 21, 2018, migrants on a rubber boat are being rescued by the ship operated by the German NGO Mission Lifeline in the Mediterranean Sea in front of the Libyan coast.

All EU leaders agree they must further curb immigration by working with third countries, though that often proves slow.

Merkel played down expectations for a breakthrough at Thursday's summit, adding that countries have to see "how can we help each other without always having to wait for all 28, but by thinking what's important to whom". Failing that, he vowed to turn back migrants at the border, which means many will likely have to return to Italy under the so-called Dublin regulations.

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