Fourteen EU members agree to new mechanism on allocation of refugees across Europe, President Macron says
Fourteen European Union member states have agreed to a new mechanism for allocating refugees around the EU, said French president Emmanuel Macron.
The agreement comes after a meeting in Paris on 22 July 2019, in which EU foreign affairs and interior ministers discussed immigration and security. It was the second meeting in two weeks for these policymakers. The first gathering took place in Finland.
President Macron told reporters that the conclusion of the July meeting was “in principle, 14-member states, at this stage, have expressed their agreement with the Franco-German document”. Overall, eight countries have agreed to share the resettlement, which was backed in principle by another six. The eight countries are Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Portugal. The six countries backing the agreement have not been named.
He said the new mechanism would be “quick” and “automatic”, but offered no other specifics.
Since the large-scale influx of migrants to Europe in 2015, EU members have disagreed on mechanisms to share the responsibility of resettlement. This also caused the EU to end their Operation Sophia Mediterranean Sea patrols in March, after Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini asked EU members to take in rescued migrants if they were brought to Italian shores. Nearly 700 deaths have been recorded in the Mediterranean this year.
Italy had taken in almost all the migrants rescued by humanitarian rescue ships at the start of the crisis, until Salvini’s right-wing party came to power in 2018. Since rising to power, Salvini has taken a series of steps to prevent migrant boats from docking on Italian shores. In its latest move, Italy also officially shut down a key migrant centre on the island of Sicily in July, which was one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Salvini did not attend the meeting in Paris and said he rejected the decision.
President Macron added that France has asked the Libyan government to ensure the safety of migrants, as Libya is one of the main departure points for those attempting to reach Europe by sea.
Charity organisations have criticised the EU for not finding a solution to “preventable” deaths in Libya and the Mediterranean. Organisations MSF and SOS Mediterranee have restarted rescue operations by ship this month.
TMP – 22/08/2019
Photo credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com
Photo caption: Paris, FRANCE – OCTOBER 31, 2016 : Workers clean an urban migrant camp in northeastern Paris near the Stalingrad subway station after a police operation.