Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

EU asks for G7's help on refugees

  • Tusk (second from right): "If we do not take the lead in managing this crisis nobody else will?" (Photo: G7)

The EU is asking the help of the G7 group of wealthy nations to cope with the refugee crisis.

"We would also like the global community to show solidarity and recognise the fact that this is a global crisis," European Council president Donald Tusk said on Thursday (26 May) at the beginning of the G7 summit in Ise-Shima, Japan.

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"We need the leadership of G7. And honestly speaking if we do not take the lead in managing this crisis nobody else will," he told journalists.

Tusk noted that because of geography, Europe would continue to bear the most responsibility in managing the crisis, but he said the G7 could provide help in three areas.

The first area is global assistance to refugees – especially in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which together host around 4 million Syrian refugees.

These countries were “providing a global public good, and this public good must be financed by the global community”, Tusk said.

The council president also called on the G7 to "encourage international financial institutions and other donors to raise their assistance".

"EU funds for Syria, Africa and Turkey, along with the work of the European Investment Bank serve as a role model for all of us," he said.

More action needed

Tusk said that more action was needed "to make legal channels of migration possible" and said that the G7 should "encourage the establishment of resettlement schemes and other legal forms of migration all around the world".

"Europe is doing a lot and we are happy to share our experiences," he said. "Those who criticise us should rather think how to increase their assistance because what Europe provides is already massive."

Tusk was speaking at the start of a two-day summit between leaders of Japan, the US, Germany, France, the UK, Canada, Italy and the EU, where global economy will be topping the agenda.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who opened the meeting by taking his counterparts to Ise Jingu, one of Shinto's holiest temples, expects the summit to back his ideas for fiscal stimulus to boost the world economy.

Security issues - mainly terrorism, tensions around Chinese military activities and the North Korean nuclear programme - will also be discussed, as well as climate change and the refugee crisis.

New crisis

After that more than one million people reached Europe last year, mainly through Turkey and the Balkans, arrivals of refugees have gone down since the EU sealed a deal with Turkey in March.

Speaking to journalists in Ise-Shima, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the deal was "already producing effects".

But after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to stop controlling migrant flows to Europe if Turkey did not get accelerated visa liberalisation, Juncker said he expected Turkey to "stick to its commitments".

"Threats are not the best diplomatic instrument you can use – one should stop using them because they will produce no effect whatsoever," he said.

As EU leaders expect G7 support for refugees, concerns over a new crisis in the Mediterranean have grown in recent days.

More than 500 people were rescued on Tuesday by the Italian navy off the Libyan coast. Around 2,600 were rescued the day before, and 800 on Sunday.

On Monday, EU foreign affairs ministers decided to train Libyan coastguard to participate in Sophia, the EU's anti migrant-smuggling naval operation.

EU to propose new refugee law

The EU commission wants to create a single rule on how EU states resettle refugees from camps in places like Jordan. The draft legislation will be proposed next week along with reforms to EU asylum laws.

Eight EU states take migrants stranded on NGO boats

France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania have agreed to relocate the 49 migrants stuck on two NGO boats moored, for almost three weeks, off Malta's coast.

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