EU Asylum Crisis Regulation: Italy blocks agreement

Once Germany gave up its reservations it looked very much like an agreement would be reached on the proposed European Migration and Asylum Crisis Regulation at the meeting of EU interior ministers on Thursday. The regulation foresees the possibility of detaining refugees for longer periods on the EU's external borders in the event of mass influxes of migrants. But at the last minute Italy, which wants new rules for dealing with private rescue ships, raised objections. Commentators see a deeply divided Europe.

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The Times (GB) /

No sign of a consensus

Europe is hopelessly divided on this issue, The Times observes:

“In practice, the anger, indecision and differences between member states have steadily grown. France said it will refuse to take arrivals from Lampedusa. ... Poland, Hungary and most other east European EU members have reacted with fury to proposals from Brussels that they should take a quota of those arriving illegally in frontline states and have point-blank refused to do so. Germany is resisting demands by Italy for more options on where it can send rejected asylum seekers, but is itself coming under strong pressure at home to take a stronger line.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Rome not just blocking

This is ultimately all about the German rescue ships, Corriere della Sera explains:

“Seven NGO vessels are deployed in the Mediterranean to rescue migrants. This is what convinced the Italian government of the need to break off the negotiations on the Crisis Regulation during the meeting in Brussels. Because - as the government explains - if the text had been adopted in its amended form in those last few hours, neither the landings nor 'the attempts to exert pressure on states, especially Italy' could have been prevented. ... The Italian response is to table an amendment stipulating that 'migrants transported on NGO ships must be automatically taken in by the vessel's flag state'.”

Der Standard (AT) /

This mechanism would be far too harsh

The rights of asylum seekers would be extremely curtailed with the regulation now on the table, criticises Der Standard:

“Europe urgently needs a new asylum regime that ensures more intergovernmental solidarity and fewer dangers to the lives of refugees and migrants. However, the Crisis Regulation is not an appropriate step towards this - at least in the version known so far. It would extremely curtail the rights of new arrivals in the event of mass migration movements. ... They would be detained for up to 20 weeks during which the provision of care would be reduced to a minimum.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

EU remains susceptible to blackmail

Brussels itself has aided the obstructionist policies of certain states, taz argues:

“For years, the whole world has been able to see how Europe reacts with panic to migrants and observe the 'destabilising' effects this has: populists who among other things are favourable to Russia are coming to power; societies are drifting apart. It was the EU itself that, with the arrivals from Belarus, declared refugees a 'hybrid threat' - meaning a sort of soft weapon of war. Those who do this are practically inviting their opponents to use migrants in this way. Reacting to this by taking away people's rights - this is precisely what the new regulation foresees - won't change anything. The EU will remain susceptible to blackmail as long as it keeps on saying refugees are a 'major threat'.”

Népszava (HU) /

Goodbye, Schengen!

The cost of blocking a common migration policy will be prohibitive, Népszava comments:

“The solution is a common EU regulation, but Hungary and other Central European countries are stubbornly resisting this. The blockade will only lead to more and more Western countries reintroducing border controls - and thus abandoning the Schengen acquis.”