Tensions over migration policy threaten to divide EU nations

Tensions over migration policy threaten to divide EU nations
Credit: Christian Lue - Unsplash

Debate over European policy regarding migration is set to take centre stage over the next week in Brussels.

Italian broadcaster Rai News has reported that the Foreign Affairs Council, which meets on Monday, could be the starting point for discussions, which will likely continue in a Council of Interior Ministers held towards the end of November. 

On Saturday 12 November, Italy, Greece, Malta and Cyprus released a joint statement in which they criticised the fact that their nations “bear the heaviest burden of managing migratory flows in the Mediterranean”. The statement added that the “rules on relocation are not functioning” and called for the “work of NGOs in the Mediterranean” to be “brought back into the framework of international law”. 

However, representatives of the Spanish government in Madrid rejected the premise of the joint statement, instead arguing that it “cannot support proposals” that would permit these countries “to not respect their obligations in terms of international maritime law”. 

Spain’s position is closely aligned with that of France, who have on a number of occasions in the last week criticised Italy’s position on migration. The French foreign minister Catherine Colonna has accused Italy of “not respecting international law, nor maritime law”. 

According to rumours, the European executive will not accept demands for new regulations, but instead will propose an operational plan to encourage greater coordination on landings and relocations.

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