July 25, 2021

The migration issue is up to the European Council

The discussion between the heads of state and government of the European Union, meeting at a summit on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 June, promised, according to their entourage, to be rapid but it reflects, in any case, the concern of some and others. As the weather improves and the Covid-19 pandemic recedes, the migration issue is indeed returning to the fore. In Italy, Greece, Spain, but also in Lithuania which recently saw the arrival, at its border with Belarus, of some 400 refugees, Iraqis, Syrians and Afghans in particular. “It’s not a lot, but it changes the perception of the East on migration issues”, we entrust to the Commission.

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According to the latest data from the Frontex agency, crossing attempts are on the rise everywhere compared to 2020, except in the eastern Mediterranean (6,215 since the start of 2021, or – 47%). They increased by 151% in the Central Mediterranean (15,717) and by 104% (14,723) in the Western Balkans.

Countries of secondary immigration, such as France or Germany, which always criticize Italy or Greece for not sufficiently controlling their borders, are also worried. “I do not believe that there is the slightest progress in Italy for the moment”, insists a diplomat from a northern country.

Fortress Europe is formed

In Germany, there are fears that the question will pollute the electoral campaign for the legislative elections in September. “The country is currently registering a little less than 400 asylum seekers per day, as before the Covid”, indicates a source. Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the subject with President Emmanuel Macron, whom she received for dinner on Friday, June 18, and with Mario Draghi, the President of the Italian Council, who visited Berlin on Monday. On this occasion, the Chancellor stressed the need to maintain close cooperation with Turkey.

For the Italian Prime Minister, the subject is politically flammable and he sounded the alarm on May 24 and 25, during the previous meeting between the Twenty-Seven. “We put the subject on the agenda by correction for Draghi, but we should not expect too much”, however, confides a source in Brussels.

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The proposal for a “global pact for migration” presented by the Commission in September 2020, remains blocked, even if the 27 have agreed on certain aspects of the project, such as the European Asylum Agency . The Portuguese Presidency of the Union did not intend to make this issue a priority. As for Slovenia, which will succeed it on 1is July, it is now aligned, with Hungary and its partners in the Visegrad Group, in the camp of opponents of a coordinated and united policy.

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