Salvini clashes with Macron after Paris and Berlin offer new migrant influx mechanism

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By Cristina Abellan Matamoros  with REUTERS
Salvini clashes with Macron after Paris and Berlin offer new migrant influx mechanism
Copyright  REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Fourteen members of the European Union have agreed on a new “solidarity mechanism” plan to resettle rescued migrants, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.

Foreign affairs and interior ministers from EU countries gathered in Paris to discuss what should happen to migrants that get stranded in the Mediterranean.

Ministers worked to come up with a strategy that would “assist migrants in Libya” and “organise humanitarian transfers as well as voluntary returns,” said the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The Franco-German plan hadn’t been made public at the time of publishing but Macron tweeted ahead of the release of the plan that people crossing the Mediterranean have got two choices "they either have bombing in Libya or sinking in the Mediterranean."

Macron said that the EU must “allow women and children entitled to asylum to be put under protection without taking all the risks and cross the Mediterranean.”

Macron also said there was a need to “accelerate and amplify the return policy for those who are not entitled to asylum in Europe” but clarified that there must be “a humane, effective policy that corresponds to our principles, without following a policy of laxity.”

The French president said the EU needed to make sure that when migrants get to Europe, there needs to be a better strategy for their arrival including a quick docking in the nearest port, but he clarified that landing countries must not make all the effort alone.

However, this has revived an old clash with Italy. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, whose country is at the forefront of the migrant influx into Europe, said he was against France and Germany deciding all the migration policies, “ignoring the demands of the most exposed countries”.

Italy received almost all of the migrants rescued by humanitarian groups at sea until the populist government closed all the country's ports to charity ships.

After the meeting, Salvini reiterated that Italy should not continue to be the "refugee camp of Brussels, Paris, and Berlin."