The 28 leaders of the European Union reached an agreement on the fraught question of migration early Friday morning, overcoming Italian demands, which called for concrete commitments on the management of migrant arrivals.
Giuseppe Conte welcomed the three decisions taken during the European Council. First, Europe is to act on the principle that « who arrives in Italy, arrives in Europe » and not only in one particular country.
Second, he welcomed « the possibility of creating landing platforms in third countries under the authority of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). »
These platforms would be outside the EU; no country has proposed that they be established on its territory, Albania and Morocco, for example, having already opposed it.
Finally, Giuseppe Conte welcomed the possibility of « creating (reception) centers in European states, but only on a voluntary basis, with European collective management. »
A distinction will be made between irregular migrants to be deported and legitimate asylum seekers, who could be spread across the EU. The agreement also calls on member states to « take all the necessary internal measures » to prevent the movement of migrants between EU countries.
« The principle of a new approach to rescue at sea, with coordinated action between member states » is noted, according to the head of the Italian government. « All the boats must respect the laws, so also the NGOs, and not interfere with the operations of the Libyan coastguard, » added Conte.
The wording of the agreement reflects Rome’s criticisms of NGOs helping migrants near the shores of Libya. Italy has refused for two weeks to welcome two humanitarian boats loaded with migrants, Aquarius and Lifeline, which subsequently landed in Spain and Malta.
These criticisms were echoed by Emmanuel Macron, who believes that the Lifeline has violated the rules and orders of the Libyan coastguard.
« Europe will still have to live for a long time with migratory pressures coming from countries in crisis, from poor countries, said French president Emmanuel Macron. “We are not an island and we must succeed in facing this challenge by being true to our values, protecting our peoples and national cohesion, » he added.