On Sunday, June 24, an extraordinary EU summit on migration will be held in Brussels. Among other things, it may decide the fate of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is expected that at least 16 countries will take part in the EU emergency summit on migration on June 24 in Brussels. And their number continues to grow. The meeting, which initially only the leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Greece planned to attend, is preparing to become a very large-scale event.
Meanwhile, the European Commission emphasizes that the invitation to participate in the summit extends to all EU members without exception – a hint addressed primarily to the Visegrad Four countries that have announced a boycott of the event. At the same time, the main topic of the summit will not be their tough course towards migrants, but the search for practical solutions to the problems faced by host countries. At the same time, it is worth noting that the more countries participate in the summit, the more difficult it will be for them to agree.
Is Italy ready to accept refugees from Germany?
In essence, the invitation of the European Commission should provide Angela Merkel with the opportunity to hold informal negotiations with the Italian government. The German Chancellor would like to know whether Rome is ready to accept migrants who have already been registered upon arrival in Italy, but then reached the Austrian-German border. This is the demand of the partner of the Merkel party in the coalition – the Christian Social Union (CSU), which is headed by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Germany Horst Seehofer (Horst Seehofer).
The dispute between Merkel and Seehofer flared up because the minister intended to close the German borders for refugees without documents or already registered in any other EU country. Merkel believes that such a measure is contrary to European asylum standards and German law, and is also unfair to countries such as Greece and Italy.
However, in order to achieve his goals, Seehofer must obtain the consent of Austria and, above all, Italy. The first attempt to do this has already failed. The draft summit’s final statement initially spoke of a “flexible return mechanism” for migrants heading north. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was enraged: he even threatened not to attend the summit. The German chancellor had to reassure him and remove the document from the agenda. At the same time, the question of how she can put an end to political blackmail by her interior minister remains open.
One solution – refugee reception centers outside the EU?
The idea of creating refugee camps in non-EU countries has been in the air for about 15 years. This has always been considered impossible – from the point of view of law, implementation in practice and morality. However, now the pressure from the right-wing forces in Europe has increased so much that such an option suddenly began to seem like a saving solution. In essence, this means that they are going to shift the problem of migration onto the shoulders of third countries: this is exactly what Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban advocated. “We must focus our attention on issues that we are able to agree on. At the moment, there are two of them: firstly, the strengthening of borders, and secondly, our long-standing proposal to open refugee registration centers outside the EU. ”
And indeed: according to some reports, Austria and Denmark have already begun informal negotiations with Albania on the creation of a center for the placement of migrants who are denied asylum. Meanwhile, the idea of creating so-called “regional platforms for landing” refugees outside the EU is being discussed at the official level in the EU. It is assumed that in such centers, specialists will decide which migrants can apply for asylum in the EU and which should be immediately sent to their homeland. By what criteria this will be assessed is not yet clear.
European Commission Against Guantanamo Bay for Refugees
The crisis in the EU has reached such a depth that even extremely dubious decisions are taken with enthusiasm. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs and Migration Issues, opposes such initiatives: “I am against the creation of the“ Guantanamo Bay ”for refugees, this contradicts our common European values. This is out of the question, we do not discuss and do not propose it. The Geneva Convention (on Refugees – Ed.) Is still alive and remains our guiding light. ”
At the same time, Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini will visit Libya next week. But even if he comes up with the initiative to create refugee camps there, he cannot guarantee that they will be kept in good conditions. However, it seems that for Salvini – a member of the right-wing party “League” – this is not a problem. He recently called migrants who are boating from the Libyan coast to Europe in boats “human flesh.”
Italy as a stumbling block
At the same time, Germany is not the only country that seeks to bring the issue of migration to the pan-European agenda. The new Italian government is doing everything possible to escalate the situation. After Rome refused to accept the Aquarius rescue vessel with 629 refugees on board, Matteo Salvini closed the republic’s ports for two more ships. In addition, the Italian authorities intend to detain activists of private charitable organizations and seize their ship, which will interfere with the rescue operations.
In addition to the new Italian government, formed by the Eurosceptic party Liga and the populist 5 Star Movement, the European Union itself bears partial blame for what is happening. For years, Brussels has ignored Rome’s demands to reform the Dublin Agreement, according to which the first EU country to which the applicant entered must consider an asylum application.
The new mechanism for the distribution of refugees should be based on the indexation of each EU country in accordance with its size and economic power. If the permissible indicators are exceeded, refugees should be automatically distributed to other countries according to quotas. Not only the Visegrad Four countries are opposed to innovations: Germany and other EU members have also blocked and delayed the adoption of such a decision. Now in Brussels they are bringing political scores together. Meanwhile, the reform of the Dublin Agreement is postponed for another six months.
Against this background, the upcoming meeting in Brussels should not have too high expectations. Experts believe that first you need to prepare the way for bilateral, tripartite or multilateral agreements in individual problem areas. Only after this can a European consensus be reached on key issues. As for whether the summit will be able to make enough progress to please Merkel’s Bavarian coalition partner, the final decision will still be made not in Brussels or Berlin, but in Munich. But until recently it was impossible even to assume that the future of Europe would be decided in the capital of one of the German federal states.