Salzburg – After the Salzburg summit, the EU intends to deepen its migration cooperation with Egypt and other African countries. President of the European Council Donald Tusk said there was agreement to hold a summit with the Arab League in Egypt in February. On Thursday, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) described Egypt as exemplary in the fight against illegal migration and smuggling.
Kurz added that it was also the EU’s wish to have a dialogue with Egypt on economic development. Tusk also said that – in the end – the intention was to have “a broader partnership”. He planned to advance those ideas as early as this Sunday at a meeting with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in New York.
According to Sebastian Kurz, Egypt was not in favour of refugee centres. The country was, however, “very efficient in its fight against illegal migration”. In the past two years, no more refugee ships from Egypt had reached Europe. The Federal Chancellor also regarded the “disembarkation platforms” for migrants, decided by the EU last June and rejected by Egypt, as not necessary. The decisive point in this issue was to make sure that as few people as possible set out illegally from Northern Africa to Europe.
Sebastian Kurz continued by saying that nowadays hardly any rescue operations took place in the EU coastal area, with the operations happening close to the African coast. The legal obligation to bring people to Europe only arose once those people entered European coastal waters. He supported Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, in his criticism of the current practice of rescuing refugees. “Nobody can say that this policy has saved lives”, Chancellor Kurz declared. “A new system is needed”, which could be initiated by strong partners in Africa. Three years ago one would have been denounced as right-wing or a right-wing radical for uttering such ideas, said Sebastian Kurz.
EU heads of state or government gather on 19 and 20 September 2018 in #Salzburg, Austria for an informal meeting. The summit is hosted by Sebastian KURZ, Chancellor of Austria, which currently holds the presidency of the Council. The president of the European Council, Donald TUSK, chairs the meeting. He represents the EU together with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude JUNCKER. According to the announced agenda Brexit talks progress will be discusses at working lunch on the 20th of September. This will be an opportunity to discuss the way forward. The 27 leaders will focus on:
- the EU-UK future partnership;
- how to organise the final phase of the talks, including the possibility of calling another summit in November;
- the need for a legally operational backstop on Ireland;
British Prime Minister Theresa May appealed directly to the EU leaders during Wednesday informal dinner in #Salzburg to drop “unacceptable” Brexit demands that she said could rip Britain apart, urging the 27 bloc to respond in kind to her “serious and workable” plan.
A suspect wanted by Antwerp’s authorities for his connection with an alleged people smuggling network was arrested by the UK’s National Crime Agency in close cooperation with Belgian law enforcement.
British national Saman Sdiq (33) was arrested at his home address in the UK September, 17. He is suspected of providing vehicles from the UK to the criminal network of which several other alleged members have already been arrested and are in custody in Belgium.
Authorities believe the network collected migrants around Calais and took them into Belgium, before loading them into lorries near the town of Postel, near the Dutch-Belgian border. From there they transported migrants across the Channel.
Belgian prosecutors believe they have identified more than 15 attempts to smuggle illegal migrants between November 2017 and April 2018. On a number of occasions illegals, including minors and young children, were found hidden in the cargo space of the trucks.
“Belgium and the UK stand firm on stamping out this sort of crime and the horrendous ill-treatment of the vulnerable. The condition in which smuggled migrants are made to travel long distances is appalling. We will continue to find those responsible and punish them” – said British Ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose.
British prime minister Theresa May warns the EU to avoid the “unacceptable” demands in negotiations over Northern Ireland’s borders.
The prime minister will set out her case to other European leaders at a informal summit in Salzburg this week, hosted by Ausrtian Presidency of the EU.
The reaction came after the EU top negotiator Michel Barnier suggested a shift in tone on his controversial “backstop” plan to avoid a hard border.
“We are ready to improve this proposal,” Barnier said.
Another key EU figure, European Council president Donald Tusk, said the UK’s plan for the Irish border “will need to be reworked“.
This week started with Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini trading barbs with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic concerned with the political situation in Italy and the rise of Salvini’s League party. “It is the umpteenth attack by Europe on Italy, on the League and on the government,” Salvini responded.
“Now they are taking an interest in us, but for years the EU bureaucrats ignored our country’s requests for help to stop the arrivals and saddled us with 700,000 immigrants” – Salvini continued “It would be better if he apologizes and shuts up“.
Sefcovic, who announced this week that he is seeking the nomination of the European Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats to be the next Commission president, said that “we are all worried” when asked by ANSA* new agency about the political situation in Italy and the rise of the League. “I have been to Italy many times and I was always impressed by how this great, important European country was honestly pro-EU,” Sefcovic said to ANSA. “It’s truly a new situation for us. “We have to ensure that, in the future, Italy returns to being the great G7 country that is strongly pro-EU again”.
*Italian news agency ANSA receives funds of European Commission.
Britain’s Brexit minister Dominic Raab said the government’s proposal on the post-Brexit border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland was the only credible one. He underlined that the border issue needs flexible approach.
Brexit Secretary made his point, calling the EU27 for a pragmatic approach to avoid ‘no deal’ scenario.
Italian news agency ANSA received one of two 2018 Mediterranean Caravel journalism prizes at the 10th Journalists of the Mediterranean Festival in Otranto for its newswire Infomigants, a multi-language service for migrants.
The main Italian news production service supplies Infomigrants through ANSAmed, together with France Media Monde and Deutsche Welle.
ANSA Deputy Editor and Infomigrants coordinator Stefano Polli received the award for Infomigrants, while the other Caravel prize went to Paolo Messa, founder of Formiche magazine. Infomigrants is published in four languages – English, French, Arabic and Pashtun – and aims to give accurate information to illegal migrants and refugees determined to reach Europe, in countries of origin, transit countries, and arrival countries.
The news sites offer stories on political, economic, and cultural relationships between Europe and southern Mediterranean countries, the Middle East, and Africa.
The Journalists of the Mediterranean Festival is organised by the Terra del Mediterraneo Association, in partnership with the City of Otranto, the Region of Puglia, the University of Bari Aldo Moro, and the Consular Corps of Puglia, Basilicata and Molise.
The winner for reporting was Alessio Lasta of channel La7 with “Dreaming France – The Snow Route of Migrants in the Alps”.
*ANSA news agency receives funds from European Commission.