Monday

21st Oct 2019

EU faces immigration 'time-bomb'

The rate at which asylum seekers are entering Europe for economic reasons has created 'a time-bomb', the incoming European Commissioner for justice and home affairs has said.

Rocco Buttiglione said that member states must work far more closely with each other if the EU is to control the flood of refugees.

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"People seeking asylum for economic reasons is a growing problem", said the Italian in a telephone interview with Reuters. "It's a time bomb".

He repeated his calls for transit countries around Europe's borders to set up holding camps for prospective immigrants.

"The camps would take in immigrants who, for example, arrive from sub-Saharan Africa, to offer them humanitarian aid and information about job possibilities in Europe," he said.

"But they would also investigate, identify and send back those who don't meet the criteria or who would not be able to integrate."

Controversy

This camp idea, which has caused a lot of controversy, was recently revived by German interior minister Otto Schily and is expected to be discussed by the big five - Italy, Germany, France, the UK and Spain - in Florence in mid-October.

In a separate interview, however, Mr Buttiglione appeared to open the door to economic refugees.

The Roman newspaper, Il Messaggero, reports him talking about "asylum out of economic and not only political reasons".

He reportedly also spoke about offering asylum to people who have fled their countries due to famine.

"If one takes on those fleeing war then one must also assure refuge for those who are fleeing famine".

However, he warned against having expectations that are too high. "It cannot be thought that everyone who is born in a poor land has the right to emigration".

Mr Buttiglione starts his high profile job on 1 November.

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