Mogherini at UN today to present EU plan on migrants

Juncker raises prospect of emergency to quash vetoes

11 May, 12:27

    Federica Mogherini (L) talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting at UN headquarters in New York Federica Mogherini (L) talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting at UN headquarters in New York

    BRUSSELS - The EU Commission is at a turning point in its strategy to tackle immigration and European High representative for foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, will present the plan today before the first UN Security Council meeting in an attempt to raise awareness about the issue in permanent members of the Security Council whose role could also prove pivotal during upcoming UN discussions on the scope of the mission in Libyan waters. The mandate could entail the fight against traffickers and, possibly, also the permission to destroy vessels "before they are used" as indicated by the extraordinary EU summit.

    The Immigration agenda drafted by European Commissioner Dimitri Avramopulos will be finalised today by the chiefs of staff and will be examined by the Commissioners Cabinet for approval on Wednesday.

    The strategy is based on four main points: help to the migrants' countries of origin and the migrants countries of transit, control of borders both south of Libya and in neighbouring countries, security and defense missions against human traffickers, and the most thorny point of all, the obligatory allocation of migrants on the basis of a quota system. With regards to help to third party countries for the policing of borders, a policy that will also entail infrastractural interventions to make frontiers more secure, "there are no money issues", European sources say, drawing on the fact Europe is the first world donor and can access a cooperation and development budget worth approximately 20 billion. However, the political issue is the funds' destination.

    As far as the mission's policy in terms of security and defense, everything is tied to the UN and the timing of the approval of the resolution drafted by Italy and submitted by Great Britain.

    Minister of foreign affairs, Paolo Gentiloni, said ten days would be needed to understand whether over and above France, Great Britain, Spain and Lithuania it would also be possible to enlist the support of the other eleven members.

    Russia, at the moment, did not tie its support to the issue of sanctions and left room for optimism.

    The EU hopes its plan will be ready in time for the European Council in June, but it may even be tabled before the Council of Minister of May 18.

    The most controversial aspect remains the redistribution of migrants, with obligatory quotas decided on the basis of the wealth of different member-countries as well as unemployment rates and the number of asylum requests already granted.

    The Commission has decided to invoke article 78.3 of the Lisbon Treaty, which has, so far, never been applied: "In the case in which a Member State or more than one Member States were to confront a situation of emergency characterised by a sudden influx of third-party citizens, the Council, acting on a proposal by the Commission, may adopt temporary measures to the relief of the affected Member State or Member States" reads the text.

    On the basis of this article, the Commission will be able to present the issue of quotas through a 'fast track' and the Council will have to approve with a majority vote, and in this case, the veto opposed by some countries would not be sufficient to block the measure strongly supported by EU president Jean Claude Juncker.

    According to Brussels, the evaluation of the emergency has been established "because the numbers are there". Hundreds of thousands of requests (130 thousand arrivals in Italy within the last year and over 200 thousand asylum requests expected in Europe) are "surely an emergency" according to the EU government.

    The number of refugees to be re-allocated has not been specified in the draft currently circulating.

    Estimates vary between 5,000 to 20 thousand, but Avramopoulos hopes the figure will be closer to the second number than to the first.(ANSAmed).

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