10 July 2014
Italy and EU discuss sharing responsibility for boat migrants
In a meeting with EU interior ministers in Milan on 8 July, Italy and other European Union states discussed sharing responsibility for rescuing migrants from North Africa, who cross the Mediterranean Sea in packed boats. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), this year over 63,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea, and more than 500 have died in their attempt to make the dangerous sea crossing.
During the meeting, the Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano, repeated an appeal for EU border control agency Frontex to take over the Italian mission Mare Nostrem. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stated that she was discussing with Alfano what was required for a ‘scaled-down’ version of Mare Nostrum. However, she emphasised that Frontex alone would not be sufficient and that a direct contribution by member states would be necessary. So far, member states have provided little help with Mare Nostrum and Frontex has given only limited air surveillance.