This content is not available in your region

EU ministers discuss sharing asylum load across Europe in wake of Lampedusa tragedy

EU ministers discuss sharing asylum load across Europe in wake of Lampedusa tragedy
Text size Aa Aa

A meeting of EU Justice and Home Affairs ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday has added Lampedusa tragedy to the agenda.

Arguments remain over whether all EU member states are pulling their weight when it comes to accepting claims for asylum.

Describing exactly what the ministers would be discussing, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström said they were: “ asking all member states to do their utmost to resettle and to share the responsibility because today there are six or seven countries who take all the responsibility and we are 28 in this union.”

Germany takes in the second highest number of asylum seekers in the world. Germany’s Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich wants to fight human trafficking by cooperating with African states.

“What is happening here is unspeakable. That smugglers are able to lure people in Africa with promises, to take all their money, and then put people on these boats that are in incredibly bad condition and sail into the Mediterranean – that is unacceptable,” said Friedrich.

As well as migrants from Africa, the conflict in Syria is adding to the number of people willing to risk their lives to reach Europe.

Swedish Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, Tobias Billström, said: “Lives are being lost, both in the Mediterranean and also in Syria. So far this year 10,000 people have sought asylum from Syria in my country. Germany and Sweden together take two-thirds of the people fleeing Syria.”

Asylum seekers and refugees who reach an EU country must make their application where they arrive.

Southern European states want to see a redistribution of asylum applications. Northern countries argue they already grant two-thirds of successful applications.