Southern Europe commits to common policy on migration
12 January, 2018
The heads of seven southern European states pledged last Wednesday at a meeting in Rome to up their efforts to tackle flows of migrants towards the EU. Despite the reluctance of some EU members to share the reception burden, the leaders of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain released a statement after a working dinner saying they were “firmly committed to a common European policy on migration.” “We must fight together to put in place a migration policy that shows solidarity with the countries that receive these significant flows,” Greek PM Alexis Tsipras told the press. France's President Emmanuel Macron also slammed the “inconsistencies” in Europe's Dublin asylum rules, which force those countries which serve as points of arrival in Europe to shoulder the crisis.
Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni boasted of the encouraging results in illegal arrivals to his country in 2017, in the control of migrant flows and the fight against human trafficking, and urged Europe to make sure the results would be consolidated. Italy went from large-scale arrivals in the first six months last year to a sharp drop-off, thanks to controversial agreements in Libya.
For its part, Spain saw a notable increase in Algerians and Moroccans sailing in, from 6,000 attempting the crossing in 2016 to nearly 23,000 picked up last year.
In Greece, an accord struck between the EU and Turkey limited the number of arrivals to 28,800 people - six times fewer than in 2016 - but it did not solve the problem of how to care for those who had already made the journey.
Apart from migration, the “Southern Seven” also tackled issues such as the future of the eurozone and efforts for greater European cohesion. In a joint declaration, they encouraged citizens to have their say on the EU's future.