Public Affairs Networking
15/06 – Migration remains at core of EU debate

The press of the past three days still feature comments on the migration issue, while it is reported – in Le Figaro for instance – that the situation escalates at Franco-Italian border. Some 200 migrants, who spent several days in Ventimilglia and Menton, gathered to ask for the right to move north, were dislodged on Saturday by Italian authorities. A group of around 50 migrants slipped away from police escort. They demand a “political response from the EU” and refuse to leave, even after having spent two nights in the open, further says the French daily.

Several media outlets report on Italian PM Matteo Renzi’s controversial statements this week-end. The French, British, Belgian and Hungarian press – among others – report that the situation in Europe is “heating up” after Mr Renzi denounced the lack of solidarity of other EU member states. He said that a “Plan B” was ready if they refused to help Italy cope with the crisis, as said in Les Echos. Corriere della Sera provides some additional information on the Italian PM’s plan, saying that it aims at creating fixed-term permission to allow regular immigrants to freely circulate in Europe and to set up a charter flights system to repatriate the irregular immigrants.

Les Echos’ Anne Bauer, considers that his plan, which “would first and foremost hurt Europe”, could be to simply let migrants arriving in Italy go to other countries in the Schengen area freely. FAZ adds that the Italian PM further asked for a revision of EU asylum law, especially the Dublin Regulation. As other migrations news, Les Echos further reports that EC President Juncker stated on French radio station France Culture that some EU member states are shedding crocodile tears after every shipwreck but refuse to compromise on the grounds that they should decide of their national immigration policies. It is “unconceivable hypocrisy”, he further underlined.

Naftemporiki and BNT say that Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos had a meeting with the Greek regional governors at the headquarters of the Representation of the European Commission in Greece. Commissioner Avramopoulos informed the regional governors about the European Agenda on migration, stressing that for the first time, Europe acquires an integrated policy on the issue. Bulgarian media add that the forces of Frontex that support the Greek naval forces will also be doubled.

In an interview published in Le Journal du Dimanche, Frontex Director General Fabrice Leggeri stresses that “the EU must help Greece tackle this issue,” while referring to migration. After the Triton operation was enhanced in Italy, he calls European leaders to do the same with the Poseidon operation in Greece. says that European sources have explained that all EU countries agree that something must be done for asylum seekers, but the mandatory nature of the measures proposed by the EC generates discontentment.

As a critical comment on the EU’s policy, Researcher Álvaro Vasconcelos writes in an opinion piece in Público that a military operation against the traffickers, as thought of by the European Council, may be a political, strategic and humanitarian disaster, but above all an ethical incoherence regarding the EU values. MEP Paavo Väyrynen (ALDE) in an Uusi Suomi blog underlines that Italy and Greece’s burden should be lightened through financial support and by sending asylum applications processors from other European countries.

Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Heribert Prantl calls the refugees’ misery a “historic humanitarian challenge for European politics” and stresses that the EU’s “stronghold policy” is “far from reality.” Alexandra Föderl-Schmid analyses – in a commentary for Der Standard – Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner’s order to stop asylum proceedings in order to exert pressure ahead of the meeting of the Council of the EU this week, with the aim of easing the “asylum burden” on Austria. Ms Föderl-Schmid poses the question of whether Ms Mikl-Leitner believes that this threat will impress the other EU member states and make them agree to a quota system for the distribution of asylum seekers in the EU. This kind of “actionism” is based on the fear of the FPÖ following the party’s success in regional elections, the author also stresses.

Meanwhile, Peter Sutherland, the UN secretary general’s special representative on international migration, said that the UK was not taking its fair share of migrants fleeing turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East, as reports The Daily Mail. He berated politicians for not explaining the benefits of immigration, claiming this risked fostering a climate of xenophobia and racism. Jutarnji list informs that EU’s Interior Ministers will be discussing for the first time today and tomorrow whether or not to accept refugees from Eritrea and Syria, which travelled to Italy and Greece,


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