France, Germany push for deal to end migration row

Macron Attacks Italy’s New Govt Warns Euroscepticism Is Spreading ‘Like Leprosy’			LUDOVIC MARIN  AFP  Getty Images		22 Jun 2018

Discussions are set to continue over a formal European Union summit of the bloc's 28 leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

Sunday's meeting was called for by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who indicated bilateral and trilateral agreements could be necessary if next week's summit failed to reach EU-wide agreement.

Mission Lifeline denied Italy's accusations regarding the rescue in Libyan waters, saying it was the best equipped vessel to help.

The problem was crystalized last week in a row between Italy's new populist government, Malta and France over who should take responsibility for 630 people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, the main departure point for people trying to reach Europe.

Proactiva Open Arms says in a tweet Sunday that Italian coast guard authorities who co-ordinate rescues sent out advisories to all ships in the area but told Proactiva: "We don't need your help".

Two other ships carrying hundreds of migrants - the German NGO ship Lifeline and Danish container ship Alexander Maersk - are now in the Mediterranean awaiting instructions on where they will be allowed to dock.

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini on Friday reiterated his hard line on immigration.

"We understand there are domestic political difficulties in some countries but that can not lead to pan-European haste", Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an apparent dig at Merkel.

Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, due in Brussels Sunday, also proposed closed centers in arrival countries to hold asylum-seekers until claims are processed.

The four former communist states, who have ducked out of Sunday's talks, have always been opposed to taking in migrants.

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Many Roma people are Italian citizens who have been in the country for generations, while others come from Eastern Europe. Seibert declined to elaborate ahead of the meeting, which will be preceded by statements from the leaders.

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"Italy indeed faces a migration emergency and it's partly because France keeps pushing back people at the border".

But Italy and Malta were at it again Saturday, refusing to let a German rescue ship with 234 migrants dock.

After turning away the Aquarius, which later docked in Spain, Rome vowed Saturday to block the Lifeline.

Italy's stance has raised tension both with Germany and within Merkel's coalition government, with European Union diplomats saying the mini-summit is to help "save" the chancellor.

Ms Merkel has already played down expectations of a breakthrough at the hastily-arranged talks on migration, which is dividing Europe and threatening her own government. Anti-migrant parties, and governments in Hungary and Italy, have been fomenting public fears of foreigners and have won support doing so.

The document makes clear that Italy wants changes to the so-called Dublin regulation, which sets out European Union rules for handling asylum seekers and migrants coming to the EU.

A similar proposal to create so-called "regional disembarkation platforms", where asylum seekers would be separated from economic migrants, but only in countries surrounding the Mediterranean, was leaked earlier in the week and endorsed by the European Commission.

Malta's home affairs minister, Michael Farrugia, and Italy's transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, engaged in a Twitter war of words on Sunday over which country was being more "inhuman" about the fate of the Lifeline and its passengers.

So obviously, the rise of far-right parties is pushing migration to the top of EU's agenda and even more to the right, even though the number of migrant arrivals have sharply declined this previous year and that we are far away from the 2015 crisis.

Still, some leaders cited modest progress on a few issues - including a plan to set up migrant reception centers that is backed by France and Spain - even as Italy called for a major overhaul of the EU's current system of dealing with migration.

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