The European Commission on Tuesday called on EU Member States to accept more of the asylum seekers landing in Italy, in solidarity with the Mediterranean country as it faces a massive increase in migrants arriving on its shores.
The Lampedusa coasts are also European Union coasts, Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn said during a debate with European parliemantarians in Strasbourg, adding that the Commission wanted Member States to relocate more (asylum seekers) faster. The Commission encourages Member States to step up their efforts, he stressed.
The Austrian official said 950 asylum seekers that arrived in Mediterranean countries since June, when a voluntary solidarity mechanism was set up in Europe, had been relocated to other Member States.
However, he indicated that Italy had registered “over 30,000 arrivals in the first three months of the year, almost 300% more” than in the corresponding period of last year. “More than 1,500 arrived last weekend, he added.
Hahn highlighted the assistance provided by the EU, noting that Italy was the principal recipient of European funding earmarked for migration, and that the Commission was currently involved in discussions on a possible supplementary allocation. He also underlined the support provided by the European Union Agency for Asylum and the European coastguard agency, Frontex.
The Budget Commissioner further disclosed that the Commissioner for Internal Affairs, Ylva Johansson, would travel by the end of the month to Tunisia, the main springboard for migrants bound for Italy, “to launch an anti-passer operation.”
He said the state of emergency Italy has instituted due to its migrational situation was aimed at providing addition reception capacity with faster procedures.