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Immigration help? Ask others, Brussels tells Madrid

brussels bureau

Immigration help? Ask others, Brussels tells Madrid


It has lent a sympathetic ear but not offered more material resources: The European Commission has urged EU members to give Madrid more practical help to stop increasing numbers of African migrants from setting sail for Spain’s Canary Islands. But Brussels has not promised to boost aid itself.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, visiting the Commission headquarters as part of a campaign to get more assistance, said help from the EU was too little and too slow. “Controlling and securing a border requires more boats, more patrols and more coordination,” she said.

“We will decide this with the other Member States. I think that even if each contributes a little, we will have sufficient means.” More than 18,000 illegal migrants have reached the Canaries already this year. In May the islands’ government and Spain said they could not cope alone and needed EU help.

Two boats, two aircraft and a handful of experts have been promised for a nine-week mission, co-financed by the Commission and coordinated by the EU’s border agency Frontex. Vega said Spain’s efforts were helping to stop illegal migrants reaching other states in the bloc through Spanish territory, and: “Political leaders in the north of Europe should act accordingly”. Spain is organising an emergency meeting of Mediterranean interior ministers shortly for talks on managing sea borders.

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