Italy and Greece urge rest of EU to share migrants
EU members must share migrants and refugees, rather than expecting the Mediterranean nations to deal with the influx alone, the prime ministers of Italy and Greece have insisted in a forceful presentation to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Richer nations should also address the root cause of the migrant crisis by committing to a major development aid programme in the form of a Marshall Plan for Africa, Paolo Gentiloni and Alexis Tsipras said.
“It is necessary to be more brave – this is not all to do with Italy and Greece, it is not just the southern European countries, it is necessary for this to be in front of the main agenda of the EU,” Tsipras said.
“It is crucial to have a common migration policy. And it is necessary to have an open-minded, progressive policy in relation to African countries in order to try to solve the problems when they are born – the problem is not the flows [of migrants], it is not the people who are trying to find a new life in Europe, but the problem is why the people cannot live in their countries.”
The Greek Prime Minister said that, just as his country was told it had to obey EU rules during its financial crisis, so other countries across Europe must accept their responsibility to take more migrants.
Gentiloni agreed: “Everyone has some minimum requirement of solidarity,” he said, adding that “the lack of a common migration policy is a serious problem”.
The Italian leader predicted that it may take decades to improve the African economies, which will reduce the flow of migrants, and that an important first step is to shift migration from smugglers and into legal routes.
“It is absolutely possible. You have to disrupt the networks of criminals, to strengthen structure of the almost-failed African states, which are not able to control their own territories, and to gradually accept – through human corridors and systems of quotas – a regular flow of migrants from Africa to Europe.”
But he also acknowledged political reality, calling Italy’s decision to save migrants at sea and accept them into Italian ports “one of the most costly politician decisions that a government can take”.
The pair also directed a series of barbed comments at other EU members – including the UK for leaving a hole in the EU’s budget after Brexit – and nations including Hungary that erected fences against the tide of refugees.
They were joined by Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s vice-president, who argued that Africa does not need aid but instead fairer treatment in terms of trade and investment with Europe.
“I don’t think aid has worked through the years,” he said. “[A new Marshall Plan] seems to me in some sense to be bringing old solutions. It needs fairer trade policies and a cocktail of policies that centre on job creation, [including] far more investment.”
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