On Rome visit, Borissov lashes out at ‘passive’ EU diplomacy

Gentiloni and Borissov in Rome on 14 November 2017. [Facebook page of Boyko Borissov]

In a visit to Rome yesterday (14 November) Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov praised his host Paolo Gentiloni for stopping refugees from Libya, and lashed out at EU’s diplomacy

The visit took place as part of the preparation of the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, which starts on 1 January for a period of six months.

After meeting Gentiloni, Borissov criticised the EU’s passive reaction to the crises in its neighbourhood, saying the present way of handling the migrant crisis cannot continue.

“In recent days, you have seen President Trump and President Putin meet up and decide how Syria’s events will unfold. Yesterday, in Sochi, President Putin and President Erdoğan decided on the future of Syria.

“Where are the European politicians?” Borisov asked.

At an economic summit in Vietnam last Saturday, US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met informally and agreed a joint statement on the conflict in Syria. On Monday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visitied the Russian resort city of Sochi where he discussed with his Russian host Vladimir Putin a wide range of issues, including Syria.

Borissov continued: “In fact, [the EU] only takes on the liabilities of all this. Yes, maybe it’s not fashionable to say so, or maybe it’s too outspoken on my part, but we cannot just suffer the consequences of crises we do not create”, he said.

Borissov praised the “Italian model” of responding to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, which is heavily criticised by the UN and the NGO community.

UN denounces EU cooperation with Libya to stem migrant flow as 'inhuman'

The European Union’s policy of helping the Libyan authorities intercept migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean and return them to “horrific” prisons in Libya is “inhuman”, the United Nations said on Tuesday (14 November).

“The right way [to respond to the refugee crisis] is to close the external borders and assist the front-line countries”, he said.

Speaking in the European Parliament on 24 October, Council President Donald Tusk named Italy, Greece, Spain and Bulgaria as “frontline countries”.

“All who flee war will receive assistance, because we are a humanist society. But they should enter in a lawful way”, Borissov added.

Gentilonii spoke in favour of “common policies” on migration and praised Bulgaria for its efforts to join the Schengen border-free area. He also said that his country and Bulgaria agree that migration control points should be located outside the EU’s borders.

Relocation of UK agencies to be decided by Eurovision-style vote

The post-Brexit relocation of the two London-based European agencies will be decided by a points-based vote which resembles the Eurovision song contest, EURACTIV has learned ahead of a summit tomorrow (22 June) where EU leaders will agree the criteria and the voting rules.

The two sides reportedly agreed to support each other in the upcoming vote for the relocation of the  European Medicines Agency (EMA) which will move outside the UK after Brexit.

The post-Brexit relocation of the two London-based European agencies will be decided on 20 November by ministers of the EU27 casting a point-based vote resembling the Eurovision song contest.

Nineteen EU members, including Bulgaria and Italy, have offered to host EMA. After the first round of voting, Bulgaria is reported to offer its support for Milan.

Fate of banking, medicines agencies to be decided by secret ballot

EU ministers will vote by secret ballot on the relocation of two EU agencies currently based in London at the General Affairs Council on 20 November. The ballot papers will then be destroyed and no record kept.