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Close-up: migrants' rough ride to EU

brussels bureau

Close-up: migrants' rough ride to EU


The bruising is not over for migrants from Arab rebellions, many feeling bewildered at the reception they get when they venture to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach the European Union.

As Tunisians, Libyans and others from subsaharan Africa crawled up the beaches, or staggered out of open boats, the EU capitals bounced around whose job it is to help them.

When Italy, bearing the brunt, granted migrants temporary national residence permits, giving them a chance to travel within Europe’s Schengen area, its partners grew angry.

EU rules say that responsibility for asylum seekers lies with the country on whose territory they first set foot, but Schengen provides for controls to be reinstated in certain circumstances, after consultations.

Some analysts find fault in Paris, Rome and Brussels for a lack of coordination.

The hot questions include: to what extent are the people reaching Italy refugees from political unrest or economic migrants? Rome says the numbers are overwhelming. Other capitals disagree. But how will a deterioration in Libya affect those numbers?

The Ventimiglia train station is the last stop on the Italian line. A lot of the migrants will get no further. The mostly Tunisian immigrants are only allowed to cross the border if they have passports and can prove they have the money to support themselves.

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brussels bureau