PM Rutte heading to a "complicated" EU asylum summit
Prime Minister Mark Rutte will be attending an informal European Union summit on migration on Sunday. This summit is intended to remove the irritations among various heads of government about the European migration policy, Rutte said in parliament. "It will be complicated", the Dutch Prime Minister said, NU.nl reports.
The summit is expected to be tense, partly because of the course chosen by Italy's new government and a threatening cabinet crisis in Germany. The Italian government started denying access to aid ships picking up asylum seekers on the Mediterranean, because the new government feels Italy deals with an unfair proportion of asylum seekers. Italy's Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini previously announced that his country will no longer be "Europe's refugee camp". Since 2014, over 600 thousand migrants arrived in Italy from North Africa.
Germany's Angela Merkel is under great pressure from German politicians to come up with an European migration policy before the end of the month. German party CSU threatened to break with Merkel if that does not happen, and thus a government crisis looms. If Europe doesn't come up with a common approach soon, Germany will start sending migrants away at the border from July. Merkel is absolutely against it, and remains committed to a European approach.
"We do not yet have a stable migration system in Europe and that is a serious matter", Rutte said in parliament on Thursday. If the number of asylum seekers coming to Europe again reach the level of 2015, Rutte fears that the European Union won't be able to cope. But despite his concerns for a difficult summit, he sees a meeting as an opportunity to "achieve breakthroughs", precisely because the problems are so great.
Current European regulations state that asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the European country they first arrived in. Agreements among EU member states on how to fairly redistribute refugees among the EU countries, are not upheld by all member states. EU countries have been in a stalemate over the migration policy for years. The EU now wants to come up with a plan to bring migrants rescued at sea to centers, so-called 'disembarkment platforms', in North Africa, where economic migrants and asylum seekers in need of protection must quickly be distinguished form each other. While this plan has many legal snags, there is broad support for it in Europe, including from the Dutch government.