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MIGRATION – Continued coverage on Commission’s suggestions

Media outlets continue to provide news on the European Commission’s proposal of creating a system of quotas of migrants for each EU member state, which will be presented today. Scepticism still prevails in today’s comments. La Repubblica warns that EC President Juncker will have to “struggle” to get the Commissioners to approve the Agenda, as several points are still to be defined.

While Gazet Van Antwerpen titles “solidarity clashes with national interests”, a title of La Croix reads that the “distribution of asylum seekers gives EU member states a headache”. It says that, in practical terms, the system may be hard to implement as it would require the unanimous approval of the EU member states. La Croix adds that NGOs are fearful of the treatment of asylum seekers under such a mechanism, especially as long as reception conditions are not harmonised between the states.

In an opinion piece in Le Figaro, UMP MP Guillaume Larrivé considers that the EC President’s suggestions are a jumble of “innovation” (military operations against human traffickers),“illusion” (burden sharing which will create a pull effect) and “abdication” (no stricter conditions for access and residence). La Croix also provides an interview with Yves Pascouau, a researcher on migration issues at the think tank European Policy Centre, welcomes President Juncker’s idea. According to Mr Pascouau, this proposal answers the need to “act quickly” and put an end to the “selfishness” of some countries.

In Ilta-Sanomat, National Coalition Chairman Alexander Stubb stressed that, from Finland’s perspective, hosting refugees should be something voluntary; an opinion shared by Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka as well as Slovak PM Robert Fico, as reported in Magyar Nemzet and by the UK government – as said in Kathimerini. Along the same lines, De Telegraaf says that British PM David Cameron wants to stop the influx of refugees to Great Britain and that the relationship between him and EC President Juncker has cooled.

The Telegraph reports, however, that President Juncker has said that Britain won’t have to take in Mediterranean immigrants. The paper characterises the move as “David Cameron’s first victory in Europe since the election.” It explains that Mr Juncker “confirmed Britain’s right to opt out of the measures.” Magyar Nemzet and Pravo add that the Czech Republic and Slovakia reject the introduction of compulsory quotas for refugees.

A commentary in Die Presse calls the refugee policy of the EU a “rag rug” that grants Great Britain and Ireland generous exemption clauses. Estonia’s Permanent Representative at the EU Matti Maasikas told the daily Postimees that the plan the EC will unveil today is merely a draft and that no specific legal acts will be implemented any time soon. In an interview in La Stampa, former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner criticises the EU over the immigration emergency. It has “not been able to solve the problem by itself”, but instead has had to turn to the UN. This is because a common European foreign policy “does not exist”, “despite a certain Federica Mogherini,” he further says.

Finnish Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen expresses her scepticism towards the implementation of Brussels’s proposal, in an interview with Uusi Suomi. She also stresses that Finland’s immigration policy is already so tight and controlled that the Finns will have difficulties tightening it further. In an opinion article in Diário Económico, João Cardoso Rosas, considers that the humanitarian treatment of immigrants, even if illegal, is essential for European credibility. In an interview on Germany’s rbb, Kerstin Westphal expects EC President Juncker to be on the “pro-refugee policy side.”

Meanwhile, focus-news.net reports that Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov met with Migration Commissioner Avramopoulos in Brussels to discuss the European Security Strategy (ESS). The Commissioner pointed out that Bulgaria is definitely among the countries under amplified migration pressure. In an interview with Les Echos, Frontex Deputy Director Gil Arias-Fernandez estimates that 80% of the people intercepted by Frontex are not economic migrants but asylum seekers who deserve international protection. He fears that a migrant quota system will be useless as most of the refugees, once they are distributed between the EU member states, will try to go to Germany and Sweden where their families are already here.

Reactions are also reported on Vice-President and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini’s address to UN Security Council. The INYT says that she offered the assurance that the EU is prepared to take action against migrant smuggling operations in Libya without the consent of the UN Security Council. The WSJE gives further precisions by saying that a formal launch of the operation may take place when EU leaders meet for a two-day summit starting 25 June, according to an official. Le Monde recalls that some members of the UN Security Council, such as China and Russia, are reluctant to give consent to the EU’s request, while several states fear that the West could override a potential UN resolution, as with Libya in 2011.

The INYT adds that EUHR Mogherini has sought to assure critics of the EU’s stance towards the migration crisis in the Mediterranean that migrants intercepted at sea will not be sent back to Libya against their will. In an interview with ABC, the UN special envoy to Libya, Bernardino León, says that the European proposal to destroy smugglers’ ships in Libya has failed to convince major members of the UN Security Council, such as Russia, so he downplays the chances that it is finally put to the vote with that wording. Politiken reports that sources in both the EU and the UN think a UN resolution will be adopted, adding that EUHR Mogherini will meet with the European foreign ministers to brief them about the EU plans. Rian.ru – among others – recalls that, according to Eurostat data released yesterday, the EU member states granted refugee status to over 185,000 people in 2014 (60% more than in 2013). The highest number of refugee status requests came from citizens of Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan.

copyright:europeanunion2015

 

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