The refugee crisis is back, says Politico, ‘and the EU elite fears it will ruin their summer vacation.’
With the number of refugees arriving to the Mediterranean increasing once again, ‘Italy is frantic.’
‘It is all bringing back memories of the 2015’ refugee crisis, when over a million ‘desperate people streamed into Europe.’
Having closed the Balkan migration route in 2016 by striking a deal with Turkey, Brussels now hopes to ‘plug another hole.’ The Italian coast.
The European Commission (EC) unveiled an action plan on Tuesday after the International Organisation for Migration published a report stating that 85,000 people had landed on Italian shores in the first half of 2017, up from 71,000 last year.
“I am not saying we’re coming out with a silver bullet,” said EC Vice President Frans Timmermans, “but it would already make a world of difference if member states would just do what they agreed before.”
His comments were a thinly veiled criticism of EU countries – especially Hungary and Poland – who have flatly refused to accept refugees under the EU relocation program designed to ‘ease the burden for front-line countries such as Italy and Greece.’
“Everybody needs to do their part in this across Europe,” said Timmermans.
Brussels’ latest proposal is for North African countries to ‘take back migrants rescued in their territorial waters.’
They believe this would serve as a deterrent to those wanting to reach Europe.
The action plan also controversially calls for Frontex, the EU border agency, to take rescued migrants to ports elsewhere in Europe, not just in Italy.
‘There are also steps aimed as dissuading would-be migrants from leaving in the first place, and to help transit countries such as Libya and Nigeria patrol borders.’
Some Italian politicians have accused NGOs running search-and-rescue operations of running a “sea taxi” service for refugees.
And Brussels has called for a code of conduct for charities working in the Mediterranean.
Rome wants such NGOs to be ‘transparent about their funding and to let Italian coastguards board their vessels to check for smuggling activity.’
Vincent Cochetel – the UNHCR’s special envoy for the central Mediterranean – said NGOs are “singled out because there is the perception from some that they are part of the problem because they attract people, that they navigate too close to the Libyan shore, that if they were not there the Libyan smugglers and traffickers would not put people on those boats.
“We don’t think that’s a credible narrative.”
EU interior ministers are meeting today in Tallinn to discuss the migration action plan and how to deal with the record numbers of refugees coming to Europe.
The refugee crisis “will not go away,” said Mr. Timmermans. “Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not for a decade, not for two decades.
“This is a global phenomenon that will be with us for generations.”