EU migrant deal draws mixed reactions

EU leaders reached a deal on stemming the influx of migrants following recent disputes between member states over docking NGO migrant rescue ships
AFP

Paris (AFP) – An EU deal to stem the influx of migrants drew mixed reactions on Friday with hardline members hailing it as a “big step” and outraged aid workers saying it would hinder rescue operations at sea.

The pact came after a marathon meeting with pressure from Italy to scupper a joint declaration if its demands were not met. 

The deal envisages the setting up of secure centres for migrants in the bloc, “disembarkation platforms” in North Africa and sharing out refugees among member states.

Here are a few key reactions: 

– Italy –

“Today Italy is no longer alone. We are satisfied,” said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

– France –

President Emmanuel Macron said the new secure centres would be reserved for countries on key migrant routes such as Malta, Italy, Spain or Greece and not France. “France is not a country of first arrival. Some want to push us to that and I refused it,” he said.

– Germany –

The EU summit also called on member countries to take “all necessary” steps to stop migrants initially arriving in countries such as Italy and Greece from moving on to Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel cautiously welcomed the proposal, saying: “I am optimistic after today that we can now really continue to work, although we have a lot to do, even bridging the different views.”

– Austria-

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said: “For the first time we have an accord on refugee centres outside the EU… it’s a big step. If we can only ensure that people do not come to Europe we could end trafficking and massively reduce the number of refugees coming into Europe. What is important is that this is implemented soon.

– Belgium –

“When (the) Dublin (regulation) is reformed, we will get solidarity. For now, the first-line countries are meeting their responsibilities,” said Prime Minister Charles Michel, referring to EU asylum rules which say that migrants must be dealt with by the first country in which they arrive.

– Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia –

The central European Visegrad states of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic known as the V4 crowed victory.

“Quotas were an issue for four years, and now everyone has dropped the topic. It was a big fight, the V4 was united and we achieved our goal. It’s a big success,” Czech PM Andrej Babis said.

Polish premier Mateusz Morawiecki added on Twitter: “After more than two years of difficult discussions, controversies and pressure, all the 28 EU states have unanimously adopted the position of Poland and the V4. A NO for compulsory sharing of migrants and unanimous agreement on reforming the Dublin regulation.” 

“When it comes to voluntary quotas, I will be very careful. Slovakia still feels that the capacity of our facilities is still available and sufficient, where we can temporarily accommodate migrants,” said Slovak PM Peter Pellegrini.  

– MSF –

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF,Medecins sans Frontieres) had a scathing reaction, branding the pact as a woolly agreement aimed at further securing Fortress Europe.

“The only thing European states appear to have agreed on is to block people at the doorstep of Europe regardless of how vulnerable they are, or what horrors they are escaping – and to demonise non-governmental search and rescue operations,” MSF’s emergencies chief Karline Kleijer said.

burs-ach/boc

.