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The wave of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, which embraced Europe in 2015-2016, has long weakened, but the migration issue remains acute in a number of EU countries. This forces their governments to "shake the boat" and demand from the European community to find new ways of solving the problem. Is it possible to find them? At the moment, it is difficult to answer. But if this does not happen in the near future, the Schengen zone, within which one can move between European countries without visas, may be in jeopardy.
In the spring of 2015, economic and political instability in a number of countries in Africa and the Middle East provoked several folds increased the flow of refugees and illegal migrants to the European Union. If earlier, the European states as a whole received 280,000 asylum seekers for a year, from January to September 2015, the number of refugees and illegal migrants in the EU has already exceeded 700,000, and by the end of the year, it has increased to 2 million.
Unfortunately, European states were completely unprepared to host such a large number of people, and some began to talk about the "migrant crisis."
In order to solve the problem, the EU member states have elaborated a common migration policy based on the principle of solidarity in matters of border security, as well as resettlement of refugees in the euro area and the social adaptation of migrants. In other words, each country undertook to accept a certain number of refugees and jointly strengthen the control of migration flows. In order to reduce the flow of illegal migrants, an additional agreement with Turkey was concluded on the possibility of accommodating a certain number of refugees.
If there is a solution, why are we talking about the crisis again? It turned out that the principle of resettlement of refugees on quotas has not justified itself in all EU countries. So, for example, Malta, Finland filled their quota by 94%, and Poland and Hungary refused to accept migrants at all, although they accounted for 7 thousand and 1,3 thousand respectively.
At the same time, Dublin Rules still work, according to which (if there are no family or humanitarian grounds) the asylum-seeker must send a request for his admission to the first Member State in which he entered and where he was fingerprinted. So, if the applicant moves to another state from the list of EU members and is not accepted there, he returns to the first state he entered. That is, most often, Italy or Greece.
Recently, Italy has formed a new government. Minister of Internal Affairs Matteo Salvini said that Rome would no longer solve the problem of placing migrants for the whole of Europe. "Everyone in Europe is solving their problems, now Italy is also raising its head too," he claimed. On the same day, the state closed its ports for ships with migrants arriving from Libya.
In addition, the Italian authorities also banned the rescue of refugees in the sea, even if they give a signal for help. So, last week the authorities of Italy did not allow Aquarius vessel (630 migrants were on its board) to enter the Italian port. The ship was hosted by Spain. Another Lifeline vessel with 230 migrants still remains on the high seas, as Malta, Italy, and Spain have already refused to allow it to enter the port.
In order to prevent further split of the EU on the issue of migration policy, Germany decided to initiate an informal meeting of EU leaders (June 24).
Only 16 of the 28 heads of state and government of the European Union arrived in Brussels for an informal meeting. It is worth noting that one of the key figures of the event, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, agreed to arrive at the last moment.
The leaders of the countries of Eastern Europe - the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary - defiantly ignored the invitation.
At the meeting, the head of the Italian government called on the countries of the European Union to jointly solve the problem of migration, and punish those countries that refuse to accept migrants and refugees.
Conte introduced to his colleagues a ten-point plan, according to which immigrants should not register in the country of the first stop, but go further to other European states. That is, the Dublin Rules should be revised. In addition, he proposed the establishment of so-called centers for the protection of migrants in other EU countries, as well as outside it, by analogy with Turkey. He recalled that in 2018, 14,330 thousand migrants arrived in Italy, 11,763 - in Greece, and 9,315 - in Spain.
During an informal meeting in Brussels, EU leaders agreed to support further strengthening of their external borders and allocate more money to countries from which refugees flee to Europe. However, politicians have not agreed on how to redistribute the migrants who have already arrived in Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a pan-European approach to the issue of illegal migration: "Everyone is responsible for everything. We would like to find a pan-European solution to the problem, where possible. Where it is impossible, we want the countries ready to cooperate together to develop a plan." If this plan fails, the dispute might be resolved through agreements between individual countries.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered his support and also said that the decision should be "European", but at the same time, it could concern several states. Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat noted that the negotiations "were better than expected, the parties managed to achieve some progress."
In turn, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that "the meeting gave the hope." Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was satisfied with the meeting too, noting that he leaves Brussels "really pleased."
This week, June 28-29, the next summit of the EU leaders should take place in Brussels. The main issue to be discussed is the issue of allocating more financial support to Syrian refugees in Turkey and providing significant funds for projects in Africa.
In addition, the summit will also address lobbied by Italy issue on setting up refugee centers abroad and reviewing the Dublin regulations.