Wednesday

1st Dec 2021

Germany shows little sympathy for Italy on migration

  • Berlin reminded Rome that it took in more refugees last year (Photo: Giampaolo Macorig)

Germany voiced little sympathy for southern EU countries' migrant problems at the summit on Friday (25 October), despite more drama in the Mediterranean.

The Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said there is no question of changing the EU's basic rule, the so-called Dublin regulation, under which countries through which asylum seekers first enter the Union have to take care of them.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

She said there was a "long and thoughtful debate" on migration, in which Bulgaria, Italy and Malta spoke out.

She also said that a special task force, which met for the first time this week, will in December propose how to help the Italian island of Lampedusa and how to build up Frontex, the EU's border-control agency.

She indicated that southern states are not the only ones dealing with the problem, however.

"I'd like to remind you the we have quite a large number of asylum seekers that we have accepted [in Germany] by European comparisons," she said.

"We feel that Dublin is the basis on which we should work, and that we need to add some short term measures on Lampedusa and on the seas around Lampedusa … We have today not undertaken any qualitative change to our refugee policy," she added.

Merkel spoke two weeks after some 400 people drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa to the small Italian island.

On Friday morning, the Italian coastguard said it rescued over 700 boat refugees from Mediterranean waters.

The official summit conclusions voiced "deep sadness" on the Lampedusa drowning.

But like Merkel, they noted the response should be to stop boats coming instead of remodelling the EU's immigration system.

They called for the "reinforcement" of Frontex and for "swift implementation" of Eurosour, a new surveillance system for the Mediterranean.

They said new "strategic guidelines" for changing EU law will not be looked at before mid-2014.

For his part, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters that some EU countries pledged to give Frontex more money, boats and planes.

The meeting fell short of calls for EU solidarity issued earlier by Italy and Malta.

But Italian PM Enrico Letta and Malta's Joseph Muscat welcomed the result despite Merkel's wariness.

"I think that we reached the key result that the issue has become a European issue, not simply an Italian issue, or Maltese, or Greek," Letta noted.

Muscat said: "We got what we were really after: a specific timeframe [the December deadline for ideas on short-term actions]."

MEPs approve EU border surveillance system

MEPs Thursday gave the green light to a new European Border Surveillance system. Critics says the deal places too much emphasis on stopping migration rather than saving lives.

Magazine

Saving migrants with cameras

For a brief while in October it seemed the EU might be shocked into doing something about the recurring immigration horror on its southern coastline.

News in Brief

  1. Poland curtails media access to Belarus border
  2. Report: Germany's Scholz 'backs compulsory Covid jabs'
  3. Omicron 'present in Europe at least 10 days ago'
  4. German court finds ex-Islamic State member guilty of genocide
  5. Report: Shell is considering return to Libya
  6. Report: EU to reveal €300bn infrastructure plan
  7. Barbados becomes world's newest republic
  8. Far-right Zemmour will run for French presidency

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. No obligation to defend Ukraine from Russia, Nato chief says
  2. EU agency: 'Omicron vaccine' approval to take 3-4 months
  3. Ombudsman launches probe into Commission tobacco lobbying
  4. Lead MEP wants 'mandatory relocation' in EU asylum law
  5. The EU's 'global gateway' - an answer to China, or a dead-end?
  6. Osman Kavala in a Turkish jail - taking injustice personally
  7. Frontex implicated 'to some extent' in violations, says officer
  8. Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us