Monday

21st May 2018

'Calais of Italy' mayor pleads with MEPs for help

  • Migrants await winter in the Italian town of Ventimiglia (Photo: Agostino Loffredi/Oxfam)

"Extremely difficult" migration situations, like the one happening now in the Italian town of Ventimiglia, can be properly addressed only through a reform of the so-called 'Dublin' regulation, the town's mayor Enrico Ioculano told the European Parliament on Wednesday (6 December).

Ventimiglia is a town on the border between Italy and France, one of the transit points from where migrants try to reach the rest of Europe from Italy, and has turned into a bottleneck after the reintroduction of border controls by France in 2015.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

A high numbers of migrants who try to cross the border with France are rejected by the French authorities, and sometimes try to cross illegally, often taking dangerous routes.

Stuck either in a Red Cross camp or in a illegal camp by the river in Ventimiglia, migrants live in sort of legal and human limbo.

This is why the Ligurian city has been repeatedly labelled as 'the Calais of Italy.'

The current Dublin system prescribes that asylum seekers' country of arrival into the EU is responsible for examining applications.

This causes major migratory issues, such as in Ventimiglia, especially if combined with the reintroduction of border controls.

Ioculano said a response to the consequences of the migration crisis "can only be provided" by the EU as a whole, and called on European countries "to do their part" in the framework of a future system of shared responsibility for asylum seekers.

Selfish, individualistic, unprincipled

The EU, Ioculano told EUobserver, has so far been "very selfish, individualistic and far from its principles."

Over the next few days the Italian mayor and MEPs from the centre-left S&D group will have meetings with EU commissioners and S&D MEP Sylvie Guillaume - who represents the parliament in relations with the International Organization for Migration - to show evidence about the situation in Ventimiglia.

The chaos in the town demonstrates that proper functioning of the current Dublin regulation is "impossible" said S&D MEP Brando Benifei.

Instead of a planned 60-80 asylum seekers in Ventimiglia, there are over 600, and this situation causes problems in the town and surrounding areas, explained Benifei.

600 migrants and asylum-seekers in a town of 20,000 inhabitants makes the issue very complicated, Ioculano said.

Migrants are mainly from Sudan, Eritrea, sub-Saharan Africa and, lately, Tunisia and Morocco, according to Ioculano, while the number of Syrians is just "a few", the mayor said.

There are "shortcomings in the overall management", and a worryingly high number of children, he added.

Oxfam's Italy office recently published a report on the situation in Ventimiglia, describing it as "dramatic" - especially concerning minors, who number one in three of those in camps.

The current problems are exacerbated by the fact that "200 people live in a illegal camp by a river", the mayor estimates, and this could be dangerous during the winter due to the risk of floods.

During the last three to four years the flow of migrants coming from the south added to thousands of people rejected, sometimes physically, by the French authorities, the mayor said, resulting in a situation even "harder to handle."

The recent Italian deal to steam flows from Libya, "made us breathe again - we hope to breathe even better with the reform of the Dublin regulation" Ioculano told MEPs.

On 17 November the parliament agreed on a revised Dublin regulation, for which the member state of arrival would no longer be "solely responsible for examining asylum applications".

It also states that asylum applicants should be "distributed more evenly across the European Union", introducing a sanction mechanism - such as limitations to access to EU funds – for non-complying countries.

Member states will discuss the proposal in the coming months. Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Wednesday (6 December) that an agreement is likely in three or four months.

Leaders to avoid Estonian asylum plan at EU summit

The Estonian EU presidency plan for a 'Dublin' reform appears hard-pressed to gain traction given it will not be discussed by EU leaders at a December summit - and that the EU parliament has described it as a non-starter.

Opinion

On the future of EU asylum and free movement rules

The Dublin regulation is already subject to occasional and selective suspension. Suspending Schengen free movement rules would erode one of the fundamental principles of the EU.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Italy votes to become more eurosceptic

A hung parliament is expected, as preliminary results show a good outcome for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the anti-immigrant Northern League.

European Commission wants 10,000 border guards

The European Commission in its new budget wants to almost triple the amount of EU money, to over €34bn, that goes into border management and migration. Part of that sum may go to finance 10,000 border guards for Frontex.

Opinion

Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny

Most refugee-related services are outsourced to the private sector and NGOs, which are not adequately monitored and evaluated. When governments and EU institutions provide funding for refugee projects, they should scrutinise the NGOs and private players they work with.

Opinion

Calling time on European-Turkish strategic relations

With an Erdogan-Putin summit on Tuesday, joined by Iran on Wednesday, it is time for Europe to face facts - Turkey's ties with the West are no longer strategic. When Europe goes hither, Turkey deliberately goes thither.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  2. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  3. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  4. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  5. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  6. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures
  7. How France escaped EU legal action over chemical ban
  8. 'Connectivity' trumps enlargement at Balkans summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight