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Roundup: EU ministers seek to reduce tension over migration



European Union

European Union (EU) interior ministers met in an extraordinary session in Brussels on Friday to discuss options to ease tension between Italy and France over the fate of illegal migrants who had been rescued at sea near Italy. but those who were not allowed to land in Italian ports. .

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The issue came to a head in early November when Italy turned back the Ocean Viking, a rescue ship carrying 234 African migrants who were saved from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe’s shores. Ultimately, France accepted these immigrants but has criticized Italy for not doing so.

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Italy has recently toughened its stance on accepting migrants trying to cross Europe’s borders illegally.

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The Ocean Viking case is the latest episode in a longstanding debate among EU countries over how to share the responsibility for handling Europe-bound migrants from poor and war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East. Most of these people decide to embark on a dangerous journey to Europe to avoid genocide, the devastating effects of climate change, and economic hardship.

Margaritis Schinas, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for migration and security affairs, said Friday’s meeting was aimed at helping member states work towards a “comprehensive structural European framework for migration and asylum”.

“We should work, not crisis by crisis or ship by ship, but in a single framework,” he said on social media.

According to Stefano Amadeo, a professor of European Union Law at the University of Trieste in Italy, reaching an agreement is one of the most difficult challenges facing the 27-nation bloc.

“The European Commission is the only entity that can (take the initiative) working towards a unified response to this problem and it is doing so. But it will take time and (a lot) of effort to develop and finalize binding regulations on migration. Amadeo said.

He pointed out that the European Agenda on Migration, launched in 2015, called for financial solidarity towards the border countries that receive the most asylum seekers, including Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta, and policies to facilitate the relocation of migrants throughout the EU once your requests. for asylum have been processed.

But efforts to update those guidelines into binding rules applicable in all 27 member states have turned out to be a slow process, he said. “There is talk of concluding the review of existing standards by the end of the term of the current European Parliament in 2024,” she said.

In the meantime, the problem is likely to escalate. According to recent data from the European Commission, so far this year around 90,000 immigrants have arrived in Europe via the Central Mediterranean Route from Africa, the majority landing in Italy and Malta.

This number is below the average of 170,000 immigrants per year who arrived in Europe between 2014 and 2015, but it is still an increase of around 50% compared to the same period in 2021.

With worsening political, economic and climatic conditions in Africa and the Middle East, the consensus from media reports is that the number of people willing to undertake the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean will grow in the coming months and years. ■


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