More than a year after the BREXIT referendum shocked the world, the various EU member nations are seemingly no closer to a consensus on how to deal with Europe’s migrant influx. The lack of a coordinated plan and disproportionate distribution of migrants across the continent has Italy threatening to close their ports to privately-funded aid boats until other nations “step up.” Per Yahoo News:
With arrivals in Italy up nearly 19 percent over the same period last year, Rome has threatened to close its ports to privately-funded aid boats or insist that funding be cut to EU countries which fail to help.
“There are NGO ships, Sophia and Frontex boats, Italian coast guard vessels” saving migrants i the Mediterranean, Minniti said, referring to the aid boats as well as vessels deployed under EU border security missions.
“They are sailing under the flags of various European countries. If the only ports where refugees are taken to are Italian, something is not working. This is the heart of the question,” he said.
“I am a europhile and I would be proud if even one vessel, instead of arriving in Italy, went to another European port. It would not resolve Italy’s problem, but it would be an extraordinary signal” of support, he said.
Of course, in the face of the ever-growing crisis, the interior ministers of France, Germany and Italy got together to do what politicians do best: talk. And while we’re sure that European citizens are very happy that “the talks went off very well,” somehow we suspect the continued “all talk, no action” approach to the crisis is not entirely satisfactory for a continent that has been devastated by terrorist attacks of late.
The French and German interior ministers met with their Italian counterpart Marco Minniti in Paris on Sunday to discuss a “coordinated response” to Italy’s migrant crisis, hours after Minniti had called on other European countries to open their ports to rescue ships.
The working dinner at the French interior ministry — also attended by EU Commissioner for Refugees Dimitris Avramopoulos — was aimed at finding “a coordinated and concerted response to the migrant flux in the central Mediterranean (route) and see how to better help the Italians,” a source close the talks said.
The four-way talks between Minniti, Thomas de Maiziere of Germany, Gerard Collomb of France and Avramopoulos will also prepare them for EU talks in Tallinn this week.
“The talks went off very well,” a member of the Italian delegation told AFP after the Paris meeting, with the “Italian proposals being discussed”. The source offered no other details.
“We are under enormous pressure,” Minniti had said earlier Sunday in an interview with Il Messaggero.
Meanwhile, over 2,000 migrants have died this year alone in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean.
More than 83,000 people rescued while attempting the perilous crossing from Libya have been brought to Italy so far this year, according to the UN, while more than 2,160 have died trying, the International Organization for Migration says.
Italy’s Red Cross has warned the situation in the country’s overcrowded reception centres is becoming critical.
“What is happening in front of our eyes in Italy is an unfolding tragedy,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Saturday.
Minniti said Rome would be pushing for a way to shift the asylum application process from Italy to crisis-hit Libya, and safely bring to Europe those who win the right to protection.
“We have to distinguish before they set off (across the Mediterranean) between those who have a right to humanitarian protection and those who don’t,” he said.
Perhaps, at some point, politicians will learn how to act rather than just talk…but we won’t hold our breath.
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