Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

EU leaders to discuss offshoring asylum centres

  • Some 200,000 migrants transited Austria last month (Photo: Josh Zakary)

EU leaders plan to discuss offshoring asylum reception centres and giving Turkey more money, according to an internal document.

The leaked paper outlines the broad conclusions set to be made following an EU summit in Brussels later this week.

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The paper states that the European Council, representing member states, will "explore possibilities for developing safe and sustainable reception capacities in the affected region".

On Turkey, it says the "EU stands ready to step up substantially its political and financial engagement."

The draft paper is dated a day before twin explosions killed almost a hundred people in Ankara.

In a statement, EU council president Donald Tusk said the attack on "a peaceful march cynically exploits a sensitive moment for Turkey and the region."

He said the EU "stands side by side with Turkey, its people and authorities in its efforts against terrorism and for reconciliation".

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, earlier this month in Brussels agreed to help the EU better manage the asylum crisis. The two sides agreed on a deal to cooperate.

Among other things, Turkey is set to register migrants, step up border surveillance, and readmit people with no chance of asylum in the EU back to Turkey.

In return, the EU agreed to accelerate plans to scrap visas for visiting Turks and roll out a €1 billion fund to "weaken the push factors", such as sub-standard conditions in refugee camps.

Summit leaders on Thursday and Friday in Brussels will also outline plans on beefing up external borders and returning unwanted migrants back to their home countries.

It includes setting up an "integrated management system for external borders" and allowing the EU's border agency Frontex to initiate returns on its own.

No European solidarity tax

The internal document makes no mention of a rumoured European solidarity tax to assist refugees.

German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported over the weekend that Berlin and the European Commission were discussing a possible tax increase to help fund refugee projects.

The paper said a surcharge on petroleum and other tax hikes would be levied to finance the influx of asylum seekers.

But both the European Commission and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday refuted the report.

"We want neither a tax hike in Germany nor the introduction of an EU-tax", said Merkel's government spokesman Steffen Seibert, reports Reuters.

For its part, the European Commission also denied it.

"There is no such proposal currently on the table or under preparation and the Commission never comments on rumours in the press", said a European Commission spokesperson.

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Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg will next month hold a public hearing on the refusal by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to release documents concerning its border control and surveillance operation known as Triton.

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Decision on migrant-returns hits parliament logjam

Home affairs ministers are set to endorse reforms for tougher EU return laws to send unwanted migrants home. But an absent lead MEP on the file and a wary EU parliament means their agreement may not amount to much.

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