Key EU Members to Hold Informal Meeting on Migration
On Sunday, leaders of Germany, France, and other European Union (EU) states will hold a so-called mini-summit in Brussels to discuss migration issues that have divided the region.
“I am convening an informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels on Sunday, in order to work with a group of Heads of State or Government of the Member States interested in finding European solutions ahead of the upcoming #EUCO. #MigrationEU” tweeted European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. According to an AFP report, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has accepted Juncker’s invitation.
The informal Sunday meeting comes ahead of an upcoming European Council (EUCO) summit scheduled for next Thursday. At the EUCO summit, 28 leaders of member countries are scheduled to discuss a plan to overhaul the existing asylum policy which has been under pressure since the migrant crisis reached its peak in 2015.
Immigration Pressure in Europe
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has been facing increasing pressure from the country’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to tighten the liberal asylum policy adopted by Merkel. Seehofer gave the E.U. an ultimatum to reach an agreement with border nations such as Italy and Greece and to allow Germany to return asylum seekers in two weeks’ time.
In 2015, Merkel stated that Germany was open to those escaping wars and seeking better lives. Since then, Germany has accepted one million asylum seekers so far.
The condition of migrants in Europe drew public attention when Italy and Malta refused to accept the rescue ship packed by 629 migrants to dock at both countries ports two weeks ago. Spain then decided to accept those African migrants.
No Single Solution to Migrant Crisis
The arrival of migrants has strengthened the political standing of populist movements in Europe. Italy, Austria and Hungary are being ruled by leaders with strong anti-immigration stances, making it difficult for EU member countries to reach a one-fits-all solution to handle the migrant crisis.
Merkel stressed that Germany had made an agreement with Italy and Greece so that migrants who have been sent back to the EU country where they first arrived will be banned, under the Dublin Regulation, from re-entering Germany.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron met with his Italian counterpart, Giussepe Conte. The former expressed understanding of the extra toll immigration takes on Italy. Itlay’s location along the Mediterranean means it’s often one of the first country’s migrants arrive in and thus it is responsible for processing asylum claims. Italy proposed an asylum policy reform that would establish a center in North African for processing asylum requests.
While the countries in the Visegrad group (Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland) have urged the EU to strengthen its external border.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis stated Frontex, the EU’s border management agency, should be bolstered to tackle the illegal immigration issue in the bloc.
Will the EU find a common solution to tackle the influx of migrants without sacrificing their lives?