Public Affairs Networking
Continued pan-EU coverage of migrant crisis

There are reports that at last 400 migrants have drowned after their boats overturned in the Mediterranean Sea, close to the Egyptian shores. Vessels were carrying people fleeing Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, and heading to Lampedusa,  Népszabadság writes, adding that another accident close to the Libyan coast also killed six migrants. This tragedy pushed the number of refugees drowned in the Mediterranean to over 1,000, Õhtuleht comments.

Daniel Brössler writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung that EU High Representative and EC Vice-President Federica Mogherini had earlier reminded that, “exactly one year ago, 800 people drowned in the Mediterranean”. To stop the casualties, Franz Solms-Laubach recommends that a deal be made with North African countries, as was made with Turkey, Bild Zeitung reports. Kleine Zeitung’s editorial even underlines, that one cannot simply blame the EU for the deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, but also has to blame the corrupt African elite and the people smugglers.

On ARD, Sigmund Gottlieb recalls that with the arrival of spring, more refugees will dare to embark on their journey to Europe. Indeed, “when you close one refugee route, others pop up”, comments Joe Millman, from the International Organisation for Migration, as quoted by Svenska Dagbladet. Frontex underlines that the number of migrants arriving from Turkey to the EU significantly decreased in March but that however, the number of migrants travelling from North Africa to Italy has increased, Ziniu Radijas says.

According to experts, this is the beginning of a refugee wave of at least 100,000 people, writes. quotes HR VP Federica Mogherini as saying that the EU operation in the Mediterranean these last six months resulted in arrests of 68 suspected traffickers, neutralisation of 104 vessels used to bring migrants to Europe, and rescue of 13,000 migrants who would have perished at sea otherwise.

Some media continue to describe the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal. Indeed, according to Frontex, as the agreement seems to have reduced the number of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Greek islands, migrants are now tempting to cross a more dangerous part of the sea, situated between Egypt and Italy,L’Humanité notes, as evidenced by yesterday’s drownings.#

In order to prevent a mass inflow, the Foreign and Defence ministers of the EU urged for a security mission in Libya and off the Libyan coast at their meeting in Luxembourg at the beginning of the week, Salzburger Nachrichten writes. The Austrian daily specifies that two concrete endeavours are planned:  to establish a police and border protection force in Libya on the one hand and to strengthen the naval mission “Sophia” in the Mediterranean on the other hand. On Canal +, European Parliament President Martin Schulz highlights that Europe is able to welcome 1 million refugees, but that only 6 countries are doing so.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoğlu in Strasbourg this Tuesday, in order to review the successes and pending issues of the EU-Turkey agreement, Politis says. According to De Tijd’s Bart Haeck, forcing the EU member states to implement the Juncker plan did not work; neither did buying more time via the political agreement with Turkey. Moreover, some media quote Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as saying that Turkey will cancel the deal if the EU does not satisfy its requirements.

Some European media outlets speak of Italy’s proposal on immigration, which has received a positive welcome. The European Commission supported Italy’s proposal of a Migration Compact, because it backs the same approach presented by EC President Juncker ever since the start of his mandate, Rai Uno says. Therefore, Mr Juncker’s spokesperson confirmed that the EC President was “very pleased” with the Italian proposal, while the EU Foreign Ministers also “welcomed” it, informed HR VP Federica Mogherini.

The EC’s positive reaction was confirmed by another EC Spokesperson, writes. The proposal consists in making provision for investments in African countries from where migrants depart, Rai Due specifies, adding that, however, Germany opposed the use of Eurobonds to finance the project. Facing this refusal, Italian Prime Minister Renzi called on Germany to come up with other solutions, reports. Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Paolo Gentiloni stressed that Europe should not build walls but increase its aid to Africa, Jutarnji list reports.

Finally, other media continue to comment on Pope Francis’s visit to Lesbos Island, and its consequences. Le Monde reports that he afterwards he reiterated that the current refugee crisis is the biggest humanitarian disaster since the Second World War. However, he added that Europe has the “instruments to defend the centrality of the human person and to find the right balance between the dual moral duty to protect the rights of its own citizens, and the one to guarantee assistance to migrants”, the French newspaper quotes.

Amnesty International demands that Europe take responsibility for those refugees stuck in Greece, as their conditions in the camps are extremely poor, Verkkouutiset notes. The Irish Times’ editorial says by returning to Rome with three Syrian families, Pope Francis has made a statement of Europe’s responsibility to welcome refugees. On Europe 1, executive director of Frontex Fabrice Leggeri says that the Pope’s visit to Greece did not change anything regarding the EU-Turkey deal and that if refugees continue to enter the country, “Greece could look like a gigantic Calais”.

Indeed, European Commission Spokesperson for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Tove Ernst said the support of the EU towards the Greek authorities for the management of the crisis is very important, Avghi notes. For his part, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has launched a plan entitled “Schengen 2.0” which focuses on rigorous controls of external border, Die Presse writes.  Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl will meet Mr Orban today, as he argues that “the return to old nationalist thinking and the disregard for European integration poses a real danger to our peace and liberty”, La Libre Belgique writes.


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