EU urged to step in as France ‘failing’ to tackle migration chaos with Italy and Britain


France is embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with Italy which erupted when Rome forced Mr Macron’s hand to accept a humanitarian rescue ship last week. Italy’s new far-right-led government headed by Giorgia Meloni has vowed that Italy will no longer be the primary port of entry for migrants leaving on smugglers’ boats from Libya and is demanding Europe do more to shoulder the burden and regulate the aid groups that operate rescue ships in the Mediterranean.

Asked whether these disputes are a sign France is failing on migration and cooperation, Henry Jackson Society’s Associate Research Fellow Dr Helena Ivanov told “Unfortunately, yes. But, to be fair to France, it is not the only country to be failing at resolving this issue. Migration overall is a major systemic problem across Europe, and not a problem that can be resolved unilaterally.

“Instead, the EU needs to have a joint programme, but one which actually is acceptable to all the relevant sides.

“Without such a deal, many countries will continue to fail at addressing migration and flare-ups between states will continue to occur.”

She added: “Ever since 2015, the EU has struggled to resolve the migration crisis, with flare-ups regularly occurring between countries. The problem with the EU-joint migration policy is that multiple countries feel like they are taking an unfair share of the burden and that others are getting away with it.

“And despite constant attempts to change things for the better – we are yet to see a policy that would in practice make everyone happy. The other issue is that the integration of refugees in many different countries has failed – in part because the EU lacks a good framework for integrating migrants – which, in turn, has caused internal disruptions in some states, further contributing to the anti-migrant sentiment across Europe.”

The Italian leader forced Emmanuel Macron’s authorities to accept migrants from the Ocean Viking ship last week, prompting the French leader to then suspend its participation in an EU solidarity pact to accept 3,000 relocated migrants this year in retaliation.

The issue was raised at a meeting of EU foreign ministers Monday in Brussels, even though it wasn’t formally on the agenda.

“I would recall the importance of European unity, of responsibility when it comes to human life, and European solidarity. By the way, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the 11 countries that are helping France by taking refugees”, France’s junior minister for European affairs, Laurence Boone, told reporters in Brussels from the Ocean Viking.

On Friday, French authorities said more than half of the minors who disembarked from the Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship last week have fled from migrant reception centres.

The council of the southern French Var region said in a statement that 26 of the 44 unaccompanied young migrants have escaped facilities made available to them.

Departmental official Jean-Louis Masson told French media that three minors had left the centres the day after arriving there on Nov. 11 with the other 23 leaving in subsequent days.

The French welcome of the Ocean Viking unleashed fury from far-right rivals of the French government.

Migrant advocates expressed relief but lamented that it took weeks to find a harbour for the ship as Italy refused to let it dock. They vowed Friday to send their vessels back out to the Mediterranean to save others in distress.

READ MORE: Royal Navy foils Russian spy plot as ship spotted targeting UK cables

Under the latest commitment, the number of French officers patrolling beaches on the country’s northern coastline is expected to rise from 200 to 300 within the next five months.

For the first time, British officers will be stationed in French control rooms and on the approaches to beaches to observe operations in a bid to better understand the threat at hand and inform deployments.

Other measures signed off earlier in Paris by Home Secretary Suella Braverman and the French interior minister Gerald Darmanin, which will “begin with immediate effect”, include drones and night vision equipment to help officers detect crossings, as well as other efforts to step up surveillance.

This is the fifth deal of its kind in four years, MPs heard, and the latest sum now takes the estimated total cost committed in that time to more than £230million.

In July last year, the then home secretary Priti Patel and Mr Darmanin announced a £54million agreement to more than double the number of police patrolling French beaches for the second time in 12 months in a bid to curb the crossings and patrol a wider stretch of coastline, with the promise of more surveillance and plans to bolster border security.


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