EU: “war” on human traffickers ” “Reverse mode on quotas?

Migration agenda: the Council reaches an agreement on naval action against traffickers. Divisions on the redistribution of refugees

To make “instruments of death unusable”, “to destroy the business model of traffickers in the Mediterranean” ensuring that “criminal organizations do not re-use” the barges and the money “that make them rich and make people die”: Federica Mogherini, High representative for the Common foreign and security Policy, explained on May 18 in Brussels the aims of EuNavforMed, the European naval intervention that, under the aegis of the UN, is expected to dismantle the “system” adopted by smugglers for human trafficking from Libyan shores to the shores of southern Europe. Next official steps. Thus the EU Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defense gave the green light in response to a decision taken in April by EU28 Heads of government and State, thereby implementing one of the items on the agenda for migrations presented last week by the Juncker Commission. To more steps are needed to act at sea: the mandate of the UN Security Council (which British diplomacy is working on to obtain the OK of Russia and China) and a new green light from EU ministers in the meeting fixed for June 22 in Luxembourg. If there are no obstacles in EuNavforMed could become operative in July, under the command of Italian admiral Enrico Credendino, the control room in Rome, with an initial budget of almost 12 million euro for the first 12 months. Interventions are planned at various stages: first the interception at sea of the vessels and the rescuing of refugees; then the decommissioning of the boats; later, if necessary, raids in Libyan territorial waters to fight the action of smugglers. Until now in addition to Italy (the country most involved in military terms), France, UK, Spain, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Ireland have so far confirmed the availability of resources for this maritime action. A sudden stop. But while Monday marked a step towards the “militarization” of anti-trafficking initiatives, it also recorded an unexpected slowdown on another item – perhaps the most innovative and relevant – in the complex strategy regarding migration flows from Africa and the Middle East to the EU. The same special European Council in April has agreed on a joint commitment to “strengthen internal solidarity and responsibility” in the management of migrants; The European Commission had therefore acknowledged this by inserting migrant quotas in the Agenda of May 13. Just a few days later several states backed out, unfulfilling their previous promise. Thus, after the “no” of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark (that also enjoy the right to the “opt out” clause in the framework of Community law), doubts have surfaced along with the unwillingness of France and Spain, in addition to those of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Baltic States. There are those who dispute the very idea of quotas, such as France and Eastern European countries, and those that are not convinced of the allocation criteria (Spain), corresponding to the total population of individual states, GDP, the presence of refugees on the national territory. As some negotiators commented in Brussels on May 18 “there’s always a good excuse not do to one’s hare”, leaving Italy, Greece and Malta on their own to handle migration pressure, which in the first four months of 2015 brought 40 thousand desperate people from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Gambia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Iraq and other states plagued by wars, poverty, political instability to seek refuge along the shores on Europe. A hot issue. The question of the quotas will come to the fore during the European Council of June 25-26 also because the Agenda drawn up by the Commission includes various chapters, some of exclusive competence of governments, (thus of the Council), while others involve ordinary legislative action, knocking on the doors of the European Parliament. Moreover, according to the plan of the Executive, the migration issue, which until now has never been of EU competence, includes the strengthening of EU tools and operations regarding border control and rescue at sea (Frontex, Triton, Poseidon), financial support to most exposed countries, “relocation” and “resettlement” quotas, legal migration, cooperation with countries of origin and transit flows, development cooperation to address the underlying causes of migration. The subject is still hot, to the extent that in Strasbourg, where the political groups of the European Parliaments themselves are divided, a debate on migration is tabled for May 20, involving MEPs, Council and Commission.

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