Following an EU summit in Brussels aimed at addressing the migration issue facing Europe, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini declares that his government has won about 70% of its goals on the matter. The summit primarily served the purpose of alleviating political tensions related to the EU migrant quota, secondary migration, and the disproportionate distribution in migrants.
A mandate that the refugees must be received and shared among the EU’s member nations was removed, and an agreement was struck that EU member nations should voluntarily receive migrants and to strengthen the bloc’s external borders.
Receiving migrants is to be concentrated at ‘reception centers’ which are voluntary for each nation, and secondary movement of migrants between member states is to be discouraged. Regarding that last point, Salvini declares that Italy is not going to accept more migrants at so-called ‘reception centers’, but that any centers to be developed would be for the purpose of repatriation.
Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini says he’s satisfied with the EU migration summit and that his anti-immigration government achieved 70 percent of what it wanted.
And he also suggested Italy’s position on migration is a humanitarian one.
“I start from the point that more people leave, more people die. Also because of the NGOs that wait a few miles from the Libyan coast, smugglers don’t use anymore motorboats, but inflatable boats only to make a few kilometres,” he said on Friday.
But he immediately ruled out opening so-called controlled centres – essentially refugee camps – which the summit agreed would occur within the EU, although it has left it up to individual states to choose whether they will do so.
He added that the only migrant centres Italy would open would be for repatriation, or to put in another way, detention centres.
“The only centres we are opening are those for repatriation, at least one in each region,” he said.
“We will also close ports to NGO ship refuelling activities”, Salvini added.
Italy is the main destination for the tens of thousands of migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean, mostly starting from Libya, and reach Europe.
The summit seems to have papered over the cracks of EU division over migration rather than mended the walls.
Most of what was agreed upon is to be done on a voluntary basis, and members states will not be coerced into taking in even one migrant.
“With five million Italians living in poverty, I think the Italian government’s duty is to think about all these people,” Salvini said.
“The absolute majority are not fleeing from any war and therefore do not have the right to stay in Italy,” Salvini said of the migrants.
EU Council President Donald Tusk, who chaired the summit, said the agreement was “the easiest part of the task, compared to what awaits us on the ground, when we start implementing it.”
Now that the business of accepting migration is a voluntary matter, Italy is in good spirits about not having more migrants forced down their throats, but now discovers that something need to be done about preventing more from appearing on Italian shores. Towards that effort, they plan to refuse migrant trafficking NGO ships at Italian ports, therefore reducing the numbers coming from Libya. However, with the matter of secondary migration not having a definitive course of action detailed by the summit, the matter of migrants popping up in Italy from neighboring nations remains unresolved, and the issues which cause the migration crisis still unabated, the problem is likely to persist.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.