Rulers of the European Union (EU) must agree by today on the creation of platforms to disembark immigrants outside of European borders rescued on the high seas, contended the European Council today.
In a letter sent to the 28 member states of the EU on Wednesday, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, made the request ahead of the summit to be held in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.
The European leader maintains that this is “the most effective way to stop the flows and put an end to the tragic loss of lives” in the Mediterranean Sea, the main route of illegal immigration into the EU.
“Our goal must be to break the business model of traffickers,” he pleads in the letter.
Tusk argues that the so-called “landing platforms” are managed in conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
In these places, the rescued immigrants would be selected from among those who are entitled to international protection and would be relocated to a European country and those who migrated for economic reasons and would be repatriated to their country of origin.
“A precondition for a genuine EU migration policy is for Europeans to effectively decide who enters the European territory
Failure to accomplish this objective “would be a display of our weakness and above all, could create the impression that the EU does not have an exterior border”, he warned.
The idea has the support of the new nationalist government of Italy, which sparked a new political crisis in Europe by refusing to open its ports to humanitarian vessels that are dedicated to the rescue of migrants, such as the Aquarius.
For its part, France advocates that the platforms be located in European territory, although it does not specify in which country.
Italy is, along with Greece, the first port of entry for undocumented immigrants into the EU, a situation that Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini promised to change.
Tusk will also ask the 28 EU Member States for more resources to finance programs against irregular immigration and the activities of the Libyan coast guard.
So far this year, 43 thousand 694 migrants entered undocumented in the EU, according to June’s data provided by the UNHCR.