The Brief: Italians should be furious

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Unprecedented numbers of sub-Saharan African migrants are arriving in Italy. Most of them are not in need of international protection, and the EU and its member countries are doing nothing to share the burden.

Italy has threatened to stop receiving foreign ships carrying migrants and has called on other European countries to open their ports to rescue ships.

Meetings have been held between the interior ministers of France and Germany, together with EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The Commission came up with a migrant “action plan” that earmarked €35 million in aid for Italy and promised to work with Libya and other countries to stem the flow of migrants at source.

However, no further specific relocation efforts are foreseen.

The problem is that the vast majority of migrants arriving in Italy are not eligible for relocation. Of all the migration flows into Europe, Italy has taken in nearly 85%. Most are sub-Saharan African men.

Among these, only Eritreans are eligible for relocation.

Nigerians are currently the number one nationality applying for international protection currently in Italy, accounting for more than 20% of all applications.

They are followed by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, who, along with Nigerians, are not considered eligible for relocation.

In theory, migrants whose asylum applications are rejected should be returned to their home countries. But the vast majority remains in Europe illegally.

Rome is furious that NGOs act as taxis, going to pick the migrants close to the Libyan shore. Some reports even say the smugglers phone the captains of the NGO boats, telling them where to go.

Italy is active in engaging with Libya, Chad and Niger in order to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean. Its government is also brokering deals with Libyan tribes but feels the rest of the EU is not doing enough.

The head of European Asylum Support Office has said the peak of migration Italy is experiencing is nothing new. This is not true.

Modern technology, such as satellite phones, in the hands of smugglers, and smartphones with Lycamobile subscriptions in the hands of migrants, as well as the new giant inflatable boat industry nobody wants to control, will bring millions more migrants to Europe.

Thanks to its geographical location, the vast majority will wash up in Italy and probably remain stranded there.

The truth is that the international community is doing nothing to stop this. Frontex was revamped but this was more of a public relations exercise than anything else.

Europe needs external borders it can control effectively. Or it will collapse.

Click here to follow our migration coverage.

The Roundup

The EU and Japan, as anticipated, announced their political agreement on a planned trade deal. EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tried to hammer home the harsh realities of a potential ‘no-deal’ scenario.

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Is uniting the island of Ireland economically viable? Check out our new video to find out.

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Spain joined Poland in opposing the EU’s posted workers directive and Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced probes into three top-level mergers.

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France plans to stop selling petrol and diesel cars by 2040, according to its environment minister. Swedish carmaker Volvo announced all its new models will be electric or hybrid from 2019.

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The UK government has been censured for not sticking to the principles of the Aarhus Convention in its long overdue and over-budget Hinkley nuclear plant. Europol seized 122 tonnes of counterfeit pesticides that could have cost member states €2 billion.

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A new study revealed that a lack of cooperation between countries is endangering the global Sustainable Development Goals. But the EU’s new plan for Africa has been labelled “the best ever”.

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French lawmakers refuse to have a proper debate about closing down the European Parliament’s second seat. Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker admitted he regrets calling MEPs “ridiculous”.

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In Warsaw, Donald Trump told Europe “it has to do more” and finally committed the US to NATO’s Article 5. Greenpeace Poland projected this message to Trump onto the side of one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

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A study by the EU’s Joint Research Centre revealed how 168 cities across the bloc perform in various areas of culture and creativity. The European Space Agency will launch its BepiColombo mission next year to explore Mercury.

Roundup by Sam Morgan.

Look out for…

The G20 summit gets underway. Jorge Valero is reporting from Hamburg, follow him here as he negotiates through protests and policy, and be sure to check EURACTIV for all the latest developments.

Views are the author’s.

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