The number of newly arrived migrants and asylum seekers has increased sharply again, whether via the central Mediterranean or other routes in Europe.
This led to severe stress for all kinds of receptions in countries like Austria and Belgium, but also to real quarrels between Italy and France after arguing over the patronage of all those taken at sea.
That is why the extraordinary crisis meeting on Friday of the immigration ministers of the EU countries was created to clear the air a bit and allow everyone to express their views.
The immigration situation is complex in every corner of Europe. It is useful to hear about different situations in different countries, says Vet Rakosan, Minister of the Interior of the Czech Republic, which holds the presidency of the Council of Ministers, in the press conference afterwards.
Meeting “on a good note”
Among other things, the crisis plan put forward by the European Union Commission on Monday was discussed with 20 points with many swift measures.
This plan, in turn, is closely linked to the EU Commission’s proposal for a common asylum and migration pact, which was presented in 2020.
The Commission, the Council of Ministers and the EU Parliament have promised to agree on the agreement by February 2024 at the latest, despite major disagreements for several years. Most likely, there is already hope for progress when ministers meet again in Brussels in just two weeks.
– I think there is a fairly broad consensus that the agreement is the way forward, says Sweden’s new Immigration Minister Maria Malmer Steinergaard (M) after Friday’s meeting, which she described as constructive and well-worded.
It’s hard to agree
However, reaching an agreement will not be easy. Mediterranean countries want other countries to help take care of the new arrivals. Many countries in Eastern Europe, such as Hungary and Poland, say absolutely not.
When Sweden takes over the Czech Republic’s role as head country after the end of the year, it will be Malmer Steinergaard who will try more to mediate.
– I feel very hopeful. The Czechs have had a successful presidency and have the ambition to be able to go ahead in certain parts of the past weeks. So I hope we can take matters into our own hands in a situation where the negotiations have gone too far, as you say.
The agreement consists of everything from rules for faster handling of borders, increased cooperation on sending home people who are not deemed to have grounds for asylum or any other right of residence, and not least different ways for member states to help each other if and when. A country prone to a particularly large influx.
Malmer Stenergard is pushing hard for repatriation to create confidence in the regime.
– If we can’t guarantee that those who get an actual ‘no’ will come back, it won’t work, you say.
“rules of conduct”
One of the issues outside the migration agreement is the treatment of ships of aid organizations that pick up migrants in distress at sea.
Italy wants to see tougher action against rescue organisations, for example in the form of a “code of conduct”. The European Commission believes it can help, with the help of talks and dialogue.
– We don’t want a Wild West situation. We need a system, a framework for cooperation, and a dialogue between Member States and voluntary organizations. We need commitment and an organized system. And I think it is possible, says EU Commissioner Margaritis Schinas at the press conference in Brussels.
The European Commission has presented an urgent action plan to deal with the situation of migrants and refugees in the Central Mediterranean. According to the commission, this year more than 90,000 have arrived this way – up 50 percent from last year.
The action plan consists of three main axes:
* Enhancing cooperation with (non-European) partner countries and international organizations
A more coordinated approach to aid and rescue efforts
* Enhanced introduction of the Voluntary Solidarity Mechanism (where EU Member States help each other) and a common “road map” to be able to adopt the EU’s proposed Asylum and Migration Agreement
The 20 points of the action plan were presented to EU interior and justice ministers at a meeting in Brussels on Friday.
Source: European Union Commission
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