France, Germany seek new migration solutions as rescue ships left adrift

28 June, 2018, 00:30 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli criticised Malta on his Facebook page

It also called for the creation of migrant centres in other European Union countries, noting this could not be limited to Italy and Spain.

The President of France Emmanuel macron supports the introduction of financial sanctions against countries that refuse to accept asylum-seekers.

The leaders of 16 countries survived the "frank talk" of an emergency meeting on immigration and emerged with a veneer of common goal Sunday as the European Union enters a potentially vital week for its unity.

European Union leaders last December had set the end of June as a deadline to establish a permanent mechanism to distribute asylum-seekers throughout the bloc - but an agreement has proved elusive.

Before the meeting had even begun, divisions were on display, as Italy and Malta traded insults over which nation was responsible for a boat of 234 migrants adrift in global waters.

But another rescue ship, the Lifeline of the German NGO Mission Lifeline, was stranded in the Mediterranean off Malta after both Italy and Malta refused to let it dock with its 234 migrants.

The draft conclusions included calls to speed up returns to countries tasked with processing them, such as Italy, causing anger in Rome.

Arriving at the summit, Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, sought to defuse the row, saying it was not a time for finger-pointing as he advised against "building a wall even on the high seas".

Conte said his 10-point proposal would be a "paradigm shift" in how Europe approaches migration and that he was "decidedly satisfied" with the outcome of Sunday's meeting.

The Libyan coastguard said it had rescued 97 migrants on Sunday and "other operations are under way", but did not give further details. "And we can't agree how to divide the responsibility of caring for them".

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"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.

"This is about reducing the illegal migration to Europe", in addition to movement within Europe, Merkel said ahead of the meeting.

Still, some leaders cited modest progress on a few issues - including a plan to set up migrant reception centers that is backed by France and Spain - even as Italy called for a major overhaul of the EU's current system of dealing with migration.

"If we don't have a genuine solution on the migration issue, then Schengen is dead", said a diplomatic source, who added: "I honestly think that this meeting is not the best way to tackle the divisions".

A similar plan for "Africa hot spots" proposed two years ago by one of Europe's most hardline anti-immigrant leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was widely criticized as potentially violating rights of those who attempt the crossing.

Merkel, who is scrambling to prevent a mutiny in her government over migration, admitted there were still "some differences" but also "a great deal of common ground". Of the 28 member states only 16 had representatives present.

Reviving the core Europe idea is likely to prove controversial, especially with four central European countries that were not attending Sunday's mini-summit.

"This is an open invitation".

But the symbolism of holding an European Union summit in Brussels without all European Union member states struck some observers as a bad idea.

The French president suggested that additional conditions should be attached to the granting of the EU's structural funds to guarantee the recipients take their share of asylum migrants. Some 934 migrants are confirmed to have died or be missing thus far this year, while the figure stood at 3,116 in 2017 and 5,143 in 2016.

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