With Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini leading the way and Germany and Austria close behind, the interior ministers of the European Union agreed that the outer borders of the EU must be secured, and all illegal immigrants must be sent back.
At this point the whole thing is elaborate theater with no relation to reality, since Italy — which recorded the initial asylum claims for many (if not most) of the migrants who registered — refuses to take any migrants back from countries further north. Any agreement that requires migrants to be sent back to the country that first registered them would place enormous burdens on Italy, Greece, and Malta, and very little on any other countries.
Furthermore, all North African countries have refused to agree to any holding camps — “debark platforms” in the parlance of this confab — so all discussions about housing migrants outside the EU are no more than idle parlor chatter. It just won’t happen, at least not until the EU agrees to pay the asking price for establishing such camps — presumably in the many billions of euros.
A little background on Italy’s situation: The boats have landing at Lampedusa for as long as I’ve been tracking the relevant news stories, going back to at least 2007. The flow accelerated dramatically in 2011, after the “Arab Spring”, and then became a tsunami after the Great Migration Crisis kicked in during the summer of 2015.
The judicial system of the EU — I can’t remember whether it was the ECJ or the ECHR — ruled that Italy could not turn the boats away, but had to rescue them. Italy demanded, pleaded, and begged for help from Brussels to cover its costs, but never received more than about a third of the required reimbursement.
As the independent smugglers’ flotilla morphed into the NGO “rescue” ferry service, Italy’s burden increased even further. The Italians dealt with the impossible situation by loosening their official procedures for dealing with “refugees” — they just gave them food and shelter for a few days, after which they received residency permits and could proceed northwards as they wished, legally or otherwise. I’ve always assumed that many thousands have passed through without being registered at all.
And now the EU, which in its infinite wisdom required the Italians to allow the migrants to land, is demanding that Italy take all those culture-enrichers back. But Matteo Salvini is in charge of migration-related matters now, and will never agree to such an outcome. So, regardless of the optimistic, heartening words being spoken into the microphones, negotiations on the fate of migrants Europe are at an impasse.
At some point the stalemate will be broken. There is too much pent-up force against the status quo for the current situation to continue indefinitely, but there’s no telling when the final resolution will come, nor what form it will take.
|00:00||The atmosphere at the preliminary trilateral meeting of the Interior Ministers|
|00:04||of Germany, Austria and Italy appears to have been good.|
|00:07||On Thursday in Innsbruck, they showcased their will to cooperate on refugee policies.|
|00:12||Then, at the following informal meeting of all Interior Ministers of the EU,|
|00:16||according to the statement by the Austrian head of department, Herbert Kickl,|
|00:19||consensus was reached on pushing the protection of the shared outer borders.|
|00:24||In order to be able to do so, the border protection agency Frontex was to be strengthened,|
|00:28||and to receive the necessary mandate.|
|00:31||Moreover, there was a strong agreement that measures|
|00:34||needed to be taken in countries of origin and transit countries, including local border protection.|
|00:39||A system of incentives and sanctions needed to be established,|
|00:42||so that states would no longer refuse to take back their own citizens.|
|00:47||Concerning the planned so-called “debark platforms” for housing refugees in North Africa,|
|00:52||there is, according to Kickl, much common ground among the EU countries:|
|00:55||On the one hand, we have agreed that we have to establish the debark platforms|
|01:02||in such a manner that they are helpful in relations with the third countries.|
|01:09||Of course they are to be established in a manner that is legally correct,|
|01:15||according to the standards of both international and national law.|
|01:19||But the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn,|
|01:22||clearly positioned himself against that on his arrival:|
|01:25||These centers outside Europe must not be a topic for civilized Europeans.|
|01:33||According to Kickl, the Interior Ministers also want to push work|
|01:37||on a common European system for asylum, and on the Dublin system;|
|01:40||at this point, however, this topic was locked in a stalemate.|
|01:43||German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer appeared satisfied with the course of the meeting:|
|01:48||We are at a crossroads.|
|01:52||Will we be able to win back the trust of the people, to the extent that|
|01:56||the great future project of Europe deserves?|
|02:02||In this respect, I think, today was a beautiful day.|
|02:07||Tonight, I will return to my homeland with a joyful heart.|
|02:16||The CSU chief again called the migration question “a fateful question for Europe”.