BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on immigration into Europe (all times local):
Italy is presenting what it says is a radical new proposal for Europe to handle migration that it says should replace the existing regulation that determines how asylum claims are handled.
Premier Giuseppe Conte is unveiling his strategy for migration at a meeting Sunday in Brussels with 15 other EU countries. He said the plan represents a “paradigm change” in the divisive issue.
Without giving details, Conte said the Italian plan is “efficient and sustainable.” He said it would replace the Dublin regulation on asylum — that migrants must ask for asylum in the EU nation where they land — which he said was negotiated as an emergency solution.
He said the Italian plan seeks to “confront the problem in a structural way.”
Conte has previously said the Italian proposal calls for creating “hotspots” in the most common homelands for migrants and in transit nations to identify asylum candidates.
A Spanish aid group that has rescued thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea says there are seven boats with about 1,000 migrants aboard in need of rescue off Libya’s coast, but that Italy has declined its offer of help.
Proactiva Open Arms says in a tweet Sunday that Italian coast guard authorities who coordinate rescues sent out advisories to all ships in the area but told Proactiva: “We don’t need your help.”
Proactiva says Italy is seeking to have the Libyan coast guard conduct the rescues and bring the migrants back to North Africa.
Under its new anti-migrant government, Italy has refused to let aid groups dock in Italian ports, arguing they are encouraging smugglers. Up until Sunday, Italy’s rescue coordination center had still engaged with the groups at sea during actual rescues.
There was no answer Sunday at the Italian coast guard.
Italy’s populist 5-Star Movement is demanding that European countries step up and actually take action to deal with hundreds of thousands of migrants on the continent, warning that the future of Europe is at stake.
The 5-Stars, who are in a ruling coalition with the anti-migrant League party, penned a blog Sunday titled “The migrant hypocrisy sinks Europe” as EU leaders met in Brussels on migration.
The post complained that few countries even came close to accepting the redistributed migrants they pledged to under a failed 2015 EU plan to ease the burden on Italy and Greece.
The post said: “It’s time for Europe to find itself again in the principles that everyone preaches, but few sincerely practice,” saying what is at stake is “the future of Europe as a political community and its values.”
The leaders of Germany, France and about a dozen other European Union nations are converging on Brussels for an afternoon of informal talks on differences over migration ahead of a full EU summit that starts next Thursday.
Facing a domestic political crisis in Germany over the topic, Chancellor Angela Merkel will be seeking to get EU leaders to forge a joint approach to manage the influx of migrants and refugees, a divisive issue which is now back at the heart of the EU too.
There are deep divisions over who should take responsibility for arriving migrants, how long they should be required to accommodate them, and what should be done to help those EU countries hardest hit like Italy and Greece.
Looking for common ground among a few key nations, the informal mini-summit now involves about 16 member states, as others demanded to take part.
To further complicate matters, four eastern EU countries— the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia —refused to attend and reject taking in migrants in general.