On Sunday, June 24, 16 EU states leaders took part in mini-summit on migration in Brussels invited by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. EWB gathered the main points about the event from open sources.
Italy – overcoming Dublin asylum system
According to EurActiv, Italian prime minister Conte came to summit with a 10-point plan, aimed at dividing saving migrants at sea and access to asylum procedure, as well as denouncing principle of asylum claim at the country of entry. Also the plan proposed to create more protection centres in EU countries (now existing only in Italy and Spain).
“The rescue obligation cannot become an obligation to process asylum requests on everyone’s behalf”, the document says.
At the same time it proposed to cut funds for EU countries that do not receive refugees.
Germany – managing “secondary migration”
German chancellor Angela Merkel arrived at summit after tensions with coalition partner and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer who threatened to order border police to stop migrants if Merkel did not find a “European solution”.
“If there is no European solution, we will have to act nationally,”, – quotes him Politico.
Seehofer has called for migrants who have claimed asylum in another EU country to be pushed back at Germany’s borders.
Summing up the summit Merkel said that the decision can be found through bilateral or trilateral agreements if there is no unanimity of EU-28.
“We know that at the European Council, unfortunately, we will not have a complete solution of the migration issue. That is why there will be bilateral and trilateral agreements, how can we help each other – not always wait for all 28 members but think about what is important to whom. This search for a ‘modus vivendi’ and continue to work on having a joint European solution is at the center of today’s talks”, – quotes her Reuters.
Earlier French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to take back any asylum applicants registered in France who cross illegally into Germany.
Also Merkel said that the countries that most migrants reach first shouldn’t be left alone to deal with the influx and that it also shouldn’t be up to newcomers to decide in which European country they get to apply for asylum.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Saturday said he would reinstate border controls if German Interior Minister goes ahead with rejecting migrants at the German border.
Leaders of Visegrad four countries (Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland) did not arrive to the summit.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says that Spain is fulfilling its commitments
“We would ask for the support from our comrades, other member states, in order to control better the flow that we are suffering now from the western Mediterranean”, – he said.
“What is important for Belgium are controlling the external borders of the European Union. This is a prerequisite to safe the free movement of people in the Schengen zone”, claimed Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
The participants of the summit seemed to generally agree that Schengen external borders should be more protected and secured and that some part of migration should be managed outside the EU through strengthening partnerships with transit or source countries. Still the primary problem of sharing migration burden seems to be unresolved.
Paradoxically, political tensions over migration in EU strengthen along with significant drop in number of arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers. According to UNHCR data, in 2017 the amount of sea arrivals to the EU halved comparing to 2016 and seems to halve in 2018 as well.