BFF-52 EU migrant deal draws mixed reactions

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EU-SUMMIT-MIGRANTS

EU migrant deal draws mixed reactions

PARIS, June 29, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – An EU deal to stem the influx of
migrants drew mixed reactions on Friday with hardline members hailing it as a
“big step” and outraged aid workers saying it would hinder rescue operations
at sea.

The pact came after a marathon meeting with pressure from Italy to
scupper a joint declaration if its demands were not met.

The deal envisages the setting up of secure centres for migrants in the
bloc, “disembarkation platforms” in North Africa and sharing out refugees
among member states.

Here are a few key reactions:

– Italy –

“Today Italy is no longer alone. We are satisfied,” said Prime Minister
Giuseppe Conte.

– France –

President Emmanuel Macron said the new secure centres would be reserved
for countries on key migrant routes such as Malta, Italy, Spain or Greece and
not France. “France is not a country of first arrival. Some want to push us
to that and I refused it,” he said.

– Germany –

The EU summit also called on member countries to take “all necessary”
steps to stop migrants initially arriving in countries such as Italy and
Greece from moving on to Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel cautiously welcomed the proposal, saying: “I am
optimistic after today that we can now really continue to work, although we
have a lot to do, even bridging the different views.”

– Austria-

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said: “For the first time we have an accord on
refugee centres outside the EU… it’s a big step. If we can only ensure that
people do not come to Europe we could end trafficking and massively reduce
the number of refugees coming into Europe. What is important is that this is
implemented soon.

– Belgium –

“When (the) Dublin (regulation) is reformed, we will get solidarity. For
now, the first-line countries are meeting their responsibilities,” said Prime
Minister Charles Michel, referring to EU asylum rules which say that migrants
must be dealt with by the first country in which they arrive.

– Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia –

The central European Visegrad states of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the
Czech Republic known as the V4 crowed victory.

“Quotas were an issue for four years, and now everyone has dropped the
topic. It was a big fight, the V4 was united and we achieved our goal. It’s a
big success,” Czech PM Andrej Babis said.

Polish premier Mateusz Morawiecki added on Twitter: “After more than two
years of difficult discussions, controversies and pressure, all the 28 EU
states have unanimously adopted the position of Poland and the V4. A NO for
compulsory sharing of migrants and unanimous agreement on reforming the
Dublin regulation.”

“When it comes to voluntary quotas, I will be very careful. Slovakia
still feels that the capacity of our facilities is still available and
sufficient, where we can temporarily accommodate migrants,” said Slovak PM
Peter Pellegrini.

– MSF –

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF,Medecins sans Frontieres)
had a scathing reaction, branding the pact as a woolly agreement aimed at
further securing Fortress Europe.

“The only thing European states appear to have agreed on is to block
people at the doorstep of Europe regardless of how vulnerable they are, or
what horrors they are escaping – and to demonise non-governmental search and
rescue operations,” MSF’s emergencies chief Karline Kleijer said.

BSS/AFP/RY/1915 hrs