Italy and other Med nations push for mandatory relocation

Reform 'must go beyond country of entry' principle

05 June, 16:44

    Refugees and migrants arrive at the port of Piraeus near Athens Refugees and migrants arrive at the port of Piraeus near Athens

    BRUSSELS - The introduction of a mandatory system for the relocation among EU countries for migrants arriving in the Union and getting past the principle that the first country asylum seekers arrive in are responsible for them are the two main changes that Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Spain said are necessary for new EU policy on migration and asylum.
    The 'non paper' was presented Friday by Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese to her EU counterparts during a videoconference of EU interior ministers.
    A statement signed by the five Mediterranean area countries called for equal sharing of responsibility on the basis of a new EU pact on migration and asylum.
    The 'non paper' was illustrated Friday, on a day when Germany presented its priorities - including reform of the Dublin Rule and a new pact on migration - for its six-month term in the EU presidency starting on July 1.
    In an attempt to get past the problem of disembarking migrants rescued by units in the search and rescue area off Libya, the five Med countries underscored that these operations are considered an obligation on the basis of the law of the sea and not the result of ineffective sea border control.
    They noted that the mandatory responsibility sharing mechanism must thus be employed and that safe alternatives must be found for disembarking the migrants, adding that shared guidelines must be adopted for activities conducted in the search and rescue areas by private units as well as a ''common European mechanism'' for repatriation.
    The Med nations also stressed that the introduction of a ''pre-established, mandatory and automatic'' mechanism must be created for relocation among member states in order to eliminate the imbalances generated by the principle that countries of first entry are responsible for migrants, saying that that principle had been drawn up in ''a different context'' from now.
    They noted in the statement that the first country of entry should simply have to complete identification and health checks. 

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