More EU Aid for Mediterranean Migrants

Written by | Thursday, June 19th, 2014

The European Commission said yesterday that it was open to demands for more financial assistance to those Member States that are affected by migratory pressures in the Mediterranean. Migration has increased recently especially due to conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. As Commission’s spokesperson commented, “the Commission is ready to consider further requests for emergency assistance”. In 2013, the EU’s executive body doled out approximately 50 million EUR to help EU Member States finance emergency situations. However, given the current pressures on countries like Italy, France, or Malta, more aid is expected to flow to support Southern European countries.
Since the beginning of the year, Italy alone has saved more than 50,000 migrants, most of whom were coming from North African countries. Italy’s interior minister, Angelino Alfano, cautioned that his country might stop rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea unless Brussels intervenes and helps tackle this situation. The Italian government has to bear almost the entire cost of the Mare Nostrum operation by itself, paying about 9 million euros monthly. The budget covers an Italian Air Force Predator drone, patrol boats, two frigate class ships with helicopters, radar stations, and patrol aircraft.
Nevertheless, the EU argues that Italy has already received money from the common funding. After last autumn’s Lampedusa tragedy, which had claimed the lives of 366 migrants, Rome was granted about 30 million euros. Moreover, Brussels has stressed that Italians obtained additional 10 million euros to enhance and increase the country’s emergency capacities and marine rescue units, including sanitary assistance. Yet, Italians are said to be unhappy with the existing EU asylum rules that stipulate that those countries where migrants enter first must take care of them. Therefore, except for financing, Italy requests also amendments and enhancements to this so-called Dublin regulation which manages asylums on the EU territory.

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