Public Affairs Networking
02/06 – Migration; Germany and France say Commission’s plan is unfair

Most newspapers today report that France and Germany yesterday called on the EU to revise its relocation scheme to redistribute people in clear need of international protection landing in Europe across the continent, saying the plan does not represent a balanced relationship between solidarity and responsibility.

Helsingin Sanomat and a few others recall that according to the EC’s proposal, France and Germany would together receive almost 40% of the 40,000 asylum seekers – almost 9,000 migrants for Germany and 7,000 for France. “In-depth discussions are necessary at the European level” to achieve this balance between responsibility and solidarity, the French and German interior ministers said in a joint statement, adding that the relocation mechanism could work only if Italy, Greece and other Southern European states did their best to strengthen their borders.

They also stressed that efforts taken by countries in welcoming asylum-seekers should be “better taken into account.” Die Welt and Le Figaro specify that both Mr Cazeneuve and Mr De Maizière demand that such distribution practices should be temporary and remain an exception to the overall migration policy. They also suggest the establishment of holding centres close to the refugees arrival locations, where their applications can be processed quickly. The Daily Mail stresses that both countries thus backed Britain’s stance, while El Mundo highlights that Spain has also joined these major countries’ opinion.

El País and Le Figaro however stress that the Franco-German compromise paves the way for an agreement at a European level, even though both countries have conditioned their support to further efforts from their partners. Die Welt, Il Messaggero and Pravo report that Commission’s spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said it is “not surprising” that France and Germany want to discuss the redistribution of migrants, highlighting that she preferred to “see the glass as half full,” welcoming France and Germany’s common position. All three newspapers stress that she also said that the European Commission was “ready and open for a discussion about distribution criteria.”

La Stampa claims the Commission is thus “pretending nothing is wrong”, and says that the Franco-German statement is bad news for the Commission as well as for Italy. Some newspapers such as Lëtzebuerger Journal and Naftemporiki report that the Franco-German statement was actually made after a meeting of the Interior Ministers of the six most populous EU countries – Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain and Poland – in Schloss Moritzburg in Germany, with Commissioner Avramopoulos also present.

Many like La Stampa believe that given the current context, the June 15 EU Interior Ministers’ meeting will be “difficult,” and that France and Germany’s position risks delaying the implementation of the operation, initially forecast for July 1 after confirmation by the European Council on June 25-26. Meanwhile, the WSJE as well as Efemerida Ton Sintakton report that the EU ships have rescued almost 6,000 migrants off the Libyan coast in recent days, during the first major operations carried out since a decision was taken to increase the patrols.


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