23rd Mar 2019

Eight member states urge EU action on migration

  • The migration crisis "must be tackled at a European level", according to southern EU members (Photo: European Commission)

The leaders of eight southern European states including France, Spain and Italy have raised the alarm over illegal immigration, sending a letter to the Finnish EU presidency pressing for "strong mobilisation" at EU level.

Paris, Rome and Madrid took the initiative for the letter, which was received by the office of Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen, on Monday evening (25 September).

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 move comes a few weeks before an informal EU leaders meeting in Lahti, Finland on 20 October, which is set to be dominated by the continuing migration crisis on the southern shores of the EU.

"The urgency of the problem of illegal immigration in the Mediterranean and southern Europe requires a strong mobilisation from the European Union and a joint commitment from the migrants' countries of origin, transit and destination," the letter said according to press reports.

"The question must be tackled at a European level, notably in terms of financial aid and resource deployment."

The leaders of Greece, Portugal, Malta, Cyprus and Slovenia also signed up to the letter, with Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis saying the document highlighted the "explosive dimensions" which the migration issue has meanwhile taken.

Austrian daily Der Standard quotes the spokeswoman of Mr Vanhanen as saying the flows of African migrants in the Mediterranean will not only figure on the agenda of the October summit in Lahti, but probably also at a formal EU leaders meeting in December.

But the letter's signatories are likely to have a hard time convincing the rest of the EU to release more financial aid to help tackle the problem.

At an informal justice and interior ministers meeting in Finland last week, proposals by the Finnish EU presidency and the European Commission to share the costs of handling the crisis faced strong resistance from states like Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

"Those who want to solve problems must stop asking for the money of others," German interior minister Wolfgang Schauble was quoted as saying in German newspapers.

Austria and the Netherlands criticised Spain for last year legalising the status of around 600,000 illegal immigrants already in Spain, with Austria's Karin Gastinger saying this had created "some kind of pull factor to the people in Africa."

Despite Monday's joint initiative by France, Spain and Italy, the three states earlier this month also bickered among each other with France's interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy strongly criticising Madrid and Rome for regularising illegal migrants.

"We cannot have moves towards massive regularisation without asking the opinion of our partners," he stated.

Commission to propose EU green cards next year

The European Commission will next year come forward with a plan to introduce a European green card system to attract highly skilled immigrants as a part of the bloc's aim to achieve economic growth and compete with other western countries.

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.

Orban rejects Weber's plea to stop anti-EU posters

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has pledged to put up new anti-migrant posters - despite hopes in his centre-right EU family that he might "apologise and put an end" to the campaign.

News in Brief

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

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us