Friday

22nd Mar 2019

France, Germany, and Italy outline migrant plan

  • Mogherini with foreign ministers from the Sahel region in Africa (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

France, Germany, and Italy have called on the EU to make more use of foreign policy on the migrant crisis.

Their foreign ministers outlined their ideas in an informal paper sent to EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini on Monday (15 June).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The paper, seen by EUobserver, endorses Mogherini’s proposal to launch an EU military operation, EUnavfor Med, to sink migrant smugglers’ boats.

It says an EU-Africa Union summit in Malta later this year should “be used in order to enhance capacity building in support of [border] security and development” and should discuss “return and readmission issues”.

“Germany, Italy and France will … [use] our diplomatic networks to garner the support of African states”, it notes.

It says existing EU civilian missions in Mali and Niger should do more “to dismantle the criminal networks at the points of departure of migratory flows”.

It says the European Commission should consider a “dedicated financial scheme” for the Khartoum Process, an anti-people smuggler initiative in the Horn of Africa.

It calls for better EU funding for “capacity building of origin and transit countries in the field of border and migration management”.

It also says: “Dialogue with countries of origin and transit of migrants should include … issues such as readmission and integration of migrants profiting from voluntary return programmes”.

It adds that “a strengthened EU policy on legal migration … is of paramount importance”.

Historic challenge

The ministers noted in a letter to Mogherini the thousands of people coming to the EU is “a historic challenge”.

“The European Union has to show that what binds us together is not only policies and regulations, but also a most valuable set of principles and morals”, they said.

The paper comes ahead of next week’s summit.

Leaders are expected to launch EUnavfor Med, even though the mission cannot get fully under way until the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Libya give the green light.

Leaders will also discuss a European Commission proposal to redistribute asylum seekers around the EU based on countries’ wealth.

The Franco-German-Italian paper notes: “the importance of a sound legal basis in international law for each of the three phases of the [EUnavfor Med] operation”.

But diplomatic sources told EUobserver on Wednesday that, for the time being, UNSC veto-holders China and Russia are against it.

Solidarity

Meanwhile, the commission redistribution proposal was shot down by several EU states’ interior ministers on Tuesday.

But the foreign ministers’ letter on “principles and morals” indicates France and Germany support Italy, a frontline migrant state, on greater EU solidarity.

The fact France and Italy wrote the text together also indicates relations are better than they appear.

Italy, this week, scolded France for stopping migrants on its border. The Italian interior minister called the French blockade “a punch in the face for Europe”.

The fact the paper backs "a strengthened EU policy on legal migration" is likely to be welcomed by rights campaigners.

But its focus on security is likely to renew criticism of Europe's fortress mentality.

Ministers hit impasse on migrant plans

Interior ministers remain at odds on how to implement an EU commission plan to distribute 40,000 asylum seekers across the Union.

Interview

UN calls for EU 'courage' on immigration

The UN special envoy on migration has urged EU leaders to show more “courage” in the face of growing “nationalism” in Europe.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  2. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  3. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  4. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  5. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  6. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  7. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May
  8. Juncker suggests emergency Brexit summit next week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us