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EU’s interior ministers meeting in Tallinn, discuss situation in Italy

Andres Anvelt welcoming colleagues, Tallinn, July 6, 2017.
Andres Anvelt welcoming colleagues, Tallinn, July 6, 2017. Source: (ERR)

The EU’s interior ministers are meeting in Tallinn on Thursday and Friday to discuss the latest developments in the migration crisis concerning the recently increased numbers of refugees arriving in Italy.

Additional support in the amount of €35 million for Italy as well as increased cooperation and financial support for Libya and other countries along the Mediterranean is on the program.

According to first vice president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, the situation requires “complete solidarity” with Italy on the part of all member states of the European Union.

Italy has already received more than 85,000 refugees in 2017. As president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker put it, the sudden increase also requires the EU to speed up its work.

Emergency support for Italy planned

The Commission’s new program calls for further assistance in a bilateral project of Italy and Libya, the aim of which is to set up a rescue center in a North African country as well as coordinating sea rescue as well as coast guard operations by Libya.

The EU is also set to help Libya guard its southern border, and in arranging for Egypt, Niger, Ethiopia, and Sudan to take back citizens that left those countries with the intention to cross the Mediterranean and enter the EU illegally.

Officials that help in the process of sending back migrants that have no hope being recognized as asylum seekers or applicants for international protection are sent to Italy by the union’s member states. The number of mobile groups of the EU’s migration authorities is to be increased, and the European Commission has announced that a reserve of 500 experts was available to the Italian government, should they require it.

Discussions led by Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE)

The discussions in Tallinn on Thursday and Friday are chaired by Estonian minister of the interior, Andres Anvelt. Anvelt has said that Estonia favored the quick deportation of all those migrants that don’t fit the requirements for asylum or international protection.

Anvelt told ERR’s Uudis+ radio newscast that the vast majority of people illegally entering the European Union through Italy at the moment were economic migrants and needed neither protection nor asylum. “We’re dealing with economic migrants. Looking at their countries of origin, they’re from the Gambia, Nigeria, Bangladesh,” Anvelt said.

People who couldn’t successfully apply for protection or asylum should be identified immediately upon their arrival, already at the ports. “People get sent back. That’s the quickest preventive measure,” Anvelt said.

Anvelt: Measures "cosmetic" unless Libya gets working coast guard

Political measures to support Italy would remain cosmetic if Libya couldn’t take care of its border and coast guard, Anvelt said. “Here the EU and also Estonia are doing a lot. Tens of millions of euros of project money have been allocated to rebuild the Libyan coast guard, increase the ability to perform sea rescue operations, and this crisis will only end once it can’t get beyond the Libyan coast any longer,” he added.

In addition to the €1 million allocated for Libya and to be paid into the European Union’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), Estonia had already earlier given €450,000 to the same end.

“This one million is of course just a drop in the great financial sea the Mediterranean crisis requires, but for Estonia this drop is a whole lake considering our budget,” Anvelt said. At the same time, it was important that the presiding country made a contribution like this, he added.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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