Going it alone by Austria, Serbia and Hungary causes resentment

migrants in the Mediterranean

(Photo: via REUTERS)

Berlin The parliamentary manager of the FDP parliamentary group, Stephan Thomae, has sharply criticized national solo efforts in European migration policy and called for consequences. “It is crucial that the EU now pulls together,” Thomae told Handelsblatt, referring to a special meeting of EU interior ministers this Friday in Brussels. This also applies to combating illegal migration.

“The special meeting must be used to make it clear to Austria, Serbia and Hungary that going it alone in migration policy is not acceptable,” emphasized the FDP politician. Migration can only be managed in the long term with a joint, European solution.

The governments of Austria, Hungary and Serbia signed a declaration of intent last week that includes joint measures for border protection and against migration.

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) said the EU’s asylum system had failed. The current EU admission guidelines would “put chains” on the state. Now we have reached a point where individual member states are looking for new forms of partnership outside the EU.

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Thomae described the current conflict as “worrying”. It is more important than ever to make progress in negotiating a common European asylum system. “Because without agreement on a fixed, regulated distribution mechanism, the points of contention will keep popping up.” The solidarity mechanism introduced voluntarily by around 20 EU countries in June is far from sufficient.

The Solidarity Mechanism was created to support countries where many boat people arrive such as Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Malta and Spain. The other EU states can either accept those seeking protection from the Mediterranean countries or help them in other ways – for example with money or benefits in kind.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 90,000 people have entered the EU via countries such as Libya and Tunisia

The current situation is also complicated by the fact that the new right-wing government in Rome would prefer not to allow private rescue ships with migrants to sail into Italian ports at all.

This is one of the reasons why the Czech EU Council Presidency has scheduled the meeting of interior ministers for this Friday. It should also be about a new action plan by the EU Commission to curb illegal migration across the Mediterranean.

The Italian government had refused to allow the sea rescue ship “Ocean Viking” with 234 migrants on board to enter an Italian port. After a stalemate, France took the ship and a third of the people on board, but accused Italy of violating international law.

Arrival of the rescue ship Ocean Viking in Toulon

(Photo: IMAGO/Le Pictorium)

Most recently, the two countries have sought moderation. French President Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s head of state Sergio Mattarella confirmed the great importance of the relationship between the two countries in a telephone call. The aim is to create the conditions for comprehensive cooperation in all areas.

According to the EU Commission, more than 90,000 people have come to the EU via countries such as Libya and Tunisia since the beginning of the year. This corresponds to an increase of more than 50 percent compared to the previous year, the Brussels authority announced on Monday. Almost all migrants arrive in Italy, only a few in Malta.

The responsible EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson said: “We have to consider that a clear majority of the people who arrive today via this central Mediterranean route do not need international protection.” Many of the people who came mainly from Egypt, Tunisia and Bangladesh , wanted to earn money in the EU.

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The action plan envisages intensifying cooperation with countries of origin and transit and launching a new program against people smuggling in North Africa. National activities of EU states are to be brought together in a “Team Europe Initiative” and better coordinated.

There could be a special framework and guidelines from the International Maritime Organization for the use of private sea rescue ships, which repeatedly bring hundreds of migrants to European ports. In addition, the solidarity mechanism should be better used.

Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Piantedosi, was satisfied with the announcement from Brussels. To date, the solidarity mechanism has delivered “absolutely inadequate results” for Italy, criticized the non-party minister.

With agency material

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