EU tries to assuage German, Italian concerns on migration

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A migrant, part of a group intercepted aboard three dinghies off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea, leaves a rescue boat upon arrival at the port of Malaga, Spain June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

BRUSSELS: The European Union will agree next week to look into creating disembarkation platforms in north Africa and elsewhere to decide asylum requests before claimants get to Europe, a draft statement ahead of an EU summit showed.
European capitals from Rome to Budapest have called for such centers as the bloc has struggled since 2015 to deal with higher immigration, but concerns that processing people outside EU borders could violate the law have so far prevented such moves.
Now, however, Italy’s new anti-establishment government has demanded that Europe does more to help it handle refugees and migrants arriving from across the Mediterranean.
“Such platforms should provide for rapid processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, and reduce the incentive to embark on perilous journeys,” the draft statement of EU leaders said.
The document, whose wording might still change, is not public but was seen by Reuters before the June 28-29 EU summit, where all 28 EU leaders will lock horns again over migration, an issue that has bitterly divided them.
Though arrival numbers have long been decreasing and are now low, migration has shot back to the top of Europe’s political agenda also because German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partner issued an ultimatum for an EU-wide deal on migration.
Otherwise, Berlin would introduce right after the summit a unilateral ban on refugees already registered in other EU states, said the junior governing Christian Social Union, which holds the interior ministry.
The EU border agency Frontex said more than 90 percent of those arriving in Italy, Greece and Spain register for asylum there. But they still often go north, including to Germany.
That phenomenon, known as “secondary movements”, is against EU law but has been widespread since 2015, the peak of Europe’s migration crisis.
“Secondary movements of asylum seekers between Member States put the integrity of the Asylum System severely at risk. Member States should take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures to counter such movements and to closely cooperate amongst each other to this end,” the text said in an indirect response to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.