EU ministers approve emergency plan on immigration | The migrant crisis

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EU ministers approve contingency plan on immigration | Migrant crisis

The emergency action plan wants to strengthen cooperation with countries such as Tunisia, Libya or Egypt.

Two weeks after the Franco-Italian crisis around the Ocean Viking, European interior ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday approved an action plan to “not reproduce this kind of situation” .

The meeting had been convened at the request of Paris, which exceptionally accepted on November 11 the disembarkation of the 234 migrants from the Ocean Viking, after the refusal of the far-right Italian government of Giorgia Meloni to welcome this long stranded humanitarian ship off the Italian coast.

Upon his arrival, French Minister Gérald Darmanin repeated that France would not welcome asylum seekers who had arrived in Italy until Rome respected the law of the sea.

The emergency action plan, proposed on Monday by the European Commission and endorsed by ministers, proposes 20 measures, in particular to strengthen cooperation with countries such as Tunisia, Libya or the United States. x27;Egypt to prevent departures and increase returns of irregular migrants.

It also provides for better coordination and exchange of information between States and NGOs rescuing migrants at sea, and intends to promote discussions within the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on guidelines for vessels carrying out rescue operations at sea.

The countries of the southern Mediterranean must also open their ports to migrant rescue ships that pass through their territorial waters, underlined Gérald Darmanin.< /p>

The Ocean Viking crisis was a bit of improvisation, commented Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.

There, we have 20 specific actions, an important political agreement, everyone is committed to working not to reproduce this kind of situation, he commented at the end of the meeting, which he described as positive.

But this is not the final solution, he acknowledged, calling on member states to push forward talks on EU migration and asylum reform, which are stalling. for more than two years.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin before the extraordinary meeting of the Home Affairs Council at EU headquarters in Brussels. Tensions between Paris and Rome over migrants rescued in the Mediterranean were at the heart of the meeting.

The emergency plan also aims to relaunch a temporary European solidarity mechanism approved in June, on the initiative of France, which then held the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

A dozen countries had then made a voluntary commitment, to relieve the Mediterranean States, to welcome over one year some 8,000 asylum seekers arriving in these countries, France and Germany each taking 3500.

But the Ocean Viking crisis led Paris to suspend relocations from Italy.

“We need to get out of a situation where the same states are called upon to receive ships and carry out relocations from other member states. France will resume its relocations when this is the case. »

— Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior of France, on Twitter after the meeting

Italian Minister Matteo Piantedosi has for his share affirmed to have noted a convergence of positions during the meeting, specifying to have cordially greeted his French counterpart.

The latter invited him to come to Paris before a next meeting of interior ministers scheduled for December 8 in Brussels.

Migration has returned to the x27;European agenda, while irregular entries at the Union's external borders are on the rise (280,000 in the first 10 months of the year, +77%).

The surge is particularly strong via the Balkan route (+168% over this period), and the Commission is preparing another action plan to try to stem this increase.

The numbers do not reach the level of the refugee crisis of 2015-2016. But the possibility of a new wave of arrivals this winter of Ukrainians, millions of whom are without electricity because of the Russian strikes, also feeds the European concerns.

Greek Interior Minister Notis Mitarachi has meanwhile complained that Turkey is not respecting a 2016 migration agreement that includes that it takes back migrants who are not entitled to asylum.

He also felt that the voluntary solidarity mechanism was not enough, calling for a mandatory solution.

In his On the other hand, Belgian Minister Nicole De Moor also called for solidarity for Member States like Belgium which are doing more than their share but have seen their reception capacities saturated by secondary flows for months.

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