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EU Nations Reach New Migration Agreement: Macron

  • French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a joint statement with the International Organization for Migration, EU Commissioner for Migration and UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a joint statement with the International Organization for Migration, EU Commissioner for Migration and UN High Commissioner for Refugees. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 July 2019
Opinion

In addition to France and Germany; Finland, Luxemburg, Portugal, Lithuania, Croatia, and Ireland had also signaled a clear intention to move forward with a new system.

Fourteen member-states of the European Union agreed Monday on a new “solidarity agreement” to manage the influx of migrants and asylum seekers across the continent, according to French President Emmanuel Macron.

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"The conclusion of this morning’s meeting is that, in principle, 14 member states, at this stage, have expressed their agreement with the Franco-German document,” the French head of state told reporters, as his country and Germany headed the proposal.

A source close to the French presidency told Reuters that in addition to France and Germany, Finland, Luxemburg, Portugal, Lithuania, Croatia, and Ireland had also signaled a clear intention to move forward with a new system.

The 14 member states were represented by their Foreign and Interior ministers who gathered in Paris, France to discuss security issues and migration after a first gathering took place in Finland last week.

The French president did not give specific details about the content of the agreement, only saying that the new initiative would be “quick” and “automatic.”

However, Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was not present at the meeting while his country, along with Spain and Greece, are at the forefront of the migrant influx.

In a letter to his French counterpart Christophe Castaner, Salvini warned of the effect of decisions “solely taken in Paris and Berlin.”

Italy’s right-wing government, composed among other parties of the M5S movement and the far-right League led by Salvini arrived in power thirteen months ago and since then, the country has closed his ports to the migrants rescued by humanitarian groups at sea. 

Under the pressure of the far-right-led coalition in Rome, the EU announced in March its suspension of “Operation Sophia,” which consisted of ship patrols rescuing thousands of migrants since 2015, bringing them to Italy.

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Nearly 700 deaths have been recorded in the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, almost half as many as the 1,425 registered in 2018.

Macron also said that his country asked the Lybian government to ensure the migrants would no longer be placed in custody and that the country would take measures to guarantee their safety. Libya is one of the main departure points for African migrants, fleeing poverty and war, to try to reach Italy by boat. 

However, many are picked up and brought back by the Libyan coast guards to the North African nation, where they are held in government-run detention centers described by human rights groups and the United Nations as inhumane. 

Despite the U.N.’s warnings, repeatedly insisting that Libya is not a safe place for rescued migrants to be sent, the EU has continued to back the Libyan coastguards in intercepting and returning people.

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