Tuesday

26th Jul 2016

More EU aid possible amid Italian threat to stop migrant rescues

  • Detail of abandoned migrant boat in Sicily (Photo: Paul Keller)

The European Commission is open to requests for further financial assistance to member states under migratory pressure from people fleeing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.

“In 2014, the EC is ready to consider further requests for emergency assistance,” said a European commission spokesperson in an email.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Last year, the Brussels-executive doled out around €50 million in emergency funding to member states.

But pressure is mounting for the Brussels-executive to step up aid as tens of thousands risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.

Italy alone has rescued around 50,000 people since the start of the year, with death tolls continuing to mount. Last weekend, a reported 39 people in an overcrowded boat drowned off the coast of Libya.

Italy’s interior minister Angelino Alfano on Monday (16 June) warned Italian search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea would cease unless the EU intervenes, reports the BBC.

Alfano’s threats were made in Sicily where many of the migrants disembark.

A Kuwaiti oil tanker arrived in Sicily carrying another 356 migrants and one body shortly after Alfano’s remarks.

Money has also become an issue among Italian officials.

The government pays out some €9 million a month to maintain its naval operation Mare Nostrum. Assets include an Italian Air Force Predator drone, patrol boats, two frigate class ships with helicopters, radar stations, and patrol aircraft.

“Most of our ministers are saying that the current financial effort is very high and it would be difficult to sustain it as it is in the long term,” said an EU official close to the issue.

The commission, for its part, points out it provided Italy with funding to help cope with the increased flow of migrants and asylum seekers.

It notes Italy received some €30 million following last October’s Lampedusa tragedy where 366 shipwrecked migrants perished.

Italian authorities received another €10 million to increase and improve the country's emergency reception capacity, as well as sanitary assistance to persons who may be in need of protection.

But the Italians are also unhappy with the current EU asylum rules – the so-called Dublin regulation. The regulation requires the countries where asylum seekers first enter the Union to take care of applications.

Aside from asking the EU to mobilise more resources and reinforce operational efforts, the Italians also want help treating demands for asylum.

“I would expect this issue to be seen in the long term, so it is not only about giving up funds but it is also about getting solutions on this phenomena,” said the contact.

Southern states Portugal, Spain and Malta have also called for greater financial support from the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels