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EU leaders unable to agree on binding regulations on refugee policy

All media outlets report that the European heads of state and government yesterday failed to agree on a binding solution to the refugee situation in the Mediterranean. The European Commission had proposed a mandatory distribution system of the refugees between the member states, but according to an official, more than ten member states have opposed to such a system, Politiken reports.

According to Kurier and Jornal de Notícias, European Council President Donald Tusk confirmed after the EU Council that no consensus on binding quotas was found. Italian media including Il Sole 24 Ore explain that the “compulsory” feature of the measure was ruled out by the Baltic countries, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, adding that while Donald Tusk claimed that “there can be no solidarity without sacrifice”, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Italy is not interested in this kind of “European solidarity” because it is only wasting time.

In an interview with Il Foglio, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stressed again the importance of the “compulsory” feature of the measure, and on Rai News 24, she added that she is expecting “coherence and consistency” from European leaders concerning the internal part of immigration policies. “Refugees should stop putting themselves in danger and instead patiently wait for negotiations to finish”, Heribert Prantl sarcastically writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung, mentioning that meanwhile, Lebanon has already taken in two million people.

El País notes that in fact, the member states agreed to find an alternative solution with similar effect before the end of July. Le Monde specifies that in a move to avoid publicising the divide (between France and Italy for instance, or between Hungary and the European Commission), the European Council gave up the idea of a vote, postponing the discussion on the repartition to 9 and 10 July, when Home Affairs Ministers meet.

Meanwhile, The Malta Times reports that a leaked draft of the conclusions includes a pledge to set up centres to fingerprint and register migrants, with more powers given to Frontex to deport people. Several newspapers report that President Tusk said that containing illegal migration must be a ‘priority’ and called for the European Council to send a strong message to all illegitimate asylum seekers that they would have no guarantee to be allowed to stay in Europe. Politiken comments that “rather than discussing the EC’s proposal to distribute refugees among the EU member states, the European leaders are more interested in how to send them back.”

The Malta Times also reports that it is unlikely there be any changes to the contested Dublin regulation for the time being. On DLF, Annette Riedel however comments that the current debate has revealed that the Dublin system does not work, advocating for its reform. HBL reveals that in a report, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights demands that the EU should offer legal migration routes in order to prevent the recurring refugee tragedies in the Mediterranean. Le Monde meanwhile reports that the UN General Assembly was unable to pass a resolution supporting “Eunavfor Med”, the European naval operation against people smugglers in the Mediterranean, as it was blocked by opposition from China and Russia.


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