Such terrible news. Now the rest of Europe won’t get to experience the wonderful diversity that Italy is experiencing.
Damn you Italy, why can’t you share all that wonderful diversity with the rest of Europe?
The national leaders of Europe have scrapped plans for a new system of quotas in response to the soaring numbers of migrants reaching the continent from Libya, the Balkans and the Middle East.
Effectively telling Brussels to mind its own business on the politically toxic issue of immigration, a summit of EU leaders on Thursday evening was due to bury calls for a more equitable system across the 28 countries.
“We have no consensus among member states on mandatory quotas for migrants,” said Donald Tusk, the president of the European council. “It will take much time to build a new European consensus on migration.”
Instead of discussing measures for a more organised and equitable system of taking people in, the leaders focused on how to keep people out and deport those who get in.
“First and foremost, we need to contain illegal migration and this should be our priority. All those who are not legitimate asylum seekers will have no guarantee that they will stay in Europe,’’ Tusk said.
Faced with an influx of migrants through the Balkans, Hungary has started building a four-metre high wire fence along its border with Serbia, while Italy is struggling to cope with the the tens of thousands reaching its southern shores after risking their lives in unseaworthy vessels to cross the Mediterranean from Libya.
The European commission in Brussels unveiled radical new proposals last month calling for a new system of mandatory quotas for sharing migrants. The policy shift was rejected on Thursday.
“The idea that Brussels imposes quotas is not going to fly,” a senior EU official said. “It will never gather the support of the member states.”
In a token gesture to Italy, which is increasingly bitter about being left to cope with the immigration crisis, the EU countries are to agree on how to share 40,000 asylum seekers – 24,000 from Italy and 16,000 from Greece – by next month. The scheme, however, will be voluntary and officials predicted bitter infighting among interior ministers negotiating the details.
The summit was due to define the 40,000 scheme as “temporary and exceptional” and spread over two years. It will have little impact on the overall numbers, given that more than 600,000 people sought asylum in the EU last year. The figures for new arrivals this year are much higher.
According to the latest figures from Frontex, the EU’s border agency, the number of migrants arriving at the EU’s external borders has soared by a factor of 2.5 this year compared with 2014, from 61,500 to 153,000. The numbers coming through the Balkans were nearly nine times higher than last year.
Mediterranean crossings last month were 29% up on April, and there has been a five-fold increase so far this year in those using the eastern Mediterranean route compared with the same period in 2014.
The number of first-time asylum seekers in the EU in the first quarter of 2015 almost doubled compared with the first three months of 2014, according to Eurostat, the EU statistics agency. About 40% of the claims were lodged in Germany compared with only 4% in Britain.
The summit was expected to decide on a battery of measures aimed at speeding up asylum processing and expelling those whose claims are turned down.
EU development funds, trade agreements and diplomatic pressure are to be deployed as leverage on the migrants’ countries of origin to encourage them to sign readmission agreements with the EU.
“All tools shall be mobilised to promote readmission,” the summit was to decide.
“Structured border zones” or “hotspots” are also to be established in southern Italy to quarantine those arriving, fingerprint and register them and expedite the deportation of those deemed to be illegal or economic migrants.
European police and border agencies are to be granted new powers for implementing policies that until now have been the sole remit of national authorities.
Syrians and Eritreans arriving in the EU in high numbers can seldom be repatriated because of the risk to their lives at home. Their treatment in the asylum regime will remain unchanged and their cases will remain in the relevant national systems as before.
It’s nice to see that people are finally getting sick of all this nonsense. I do feel bad for the Italian people who will eventually be overwhelmed if trends continue, but that’s entirely the fault of their own treacherous government, and incompetent Navy. They need to deal with the issue themselves.