The Brief: EU seeks solidarity over migration, UK ramps up No Deal preps

The Brief: EU seeks solidarity over migration, UK ramps up No Deal preps
By Joanna GillIsabel Marques da Silva, Ricardo Borges de Carvalho
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As another NGO ship is subject to a standoff over where to disembark, the EU urged member states to show the same 'spirit of solidarity' for the people aboard the Ocean Viking after six EU countries offered to take those aboard the Open Arms vessel.

Mediterranean Standoff


Anchored in the Mediterranean between Malta and Italy. It has been twelve days since 356 migrants were rescued at sea, and they remain stranded aboard the NGO ship Ocean Viking.

France is the first EU country offering to welcome some of the migrants. It comes after another vessel, the Open Arms, disembarked almost 100 migrants in Lampedusa on Tuesday after another lengthy standoff. The EU wants to see more such offers.

"On the situation of the Ocean Viking vessel, we have raised this question in our contacts with members states, and as Commissioner Avramopolous said on Sunday, the Commission would welcome the same spirit of solidarity which has been shown by member states with the Open Arms case," Natasha Bertaud, European Commission Deputy Chief Spokesperson told our reporter.

However, the Italian and Maltese governments refuse to allow the ship to dock.

A member of the SOS Mediterranean that co-manages the ship says the authorities are yet respond and the situation is getting critical.

"We have asking the most able states to assist, Europe basically, to provide that solution that they have been working on as they say. We need absolutely to desimbark them, to provide the proper care, because this can not carry on for very long. We have seen on the Open Arms how this can deteriorate really fast," Frederic Penard , Director of operations, NGO SOS Mediterranean, told Euronews.

Six countries (Germany, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg and Romania) said they would receive people from the Open Arms, but they also claim that a more lasting and inclusive solution is needed for the future.

The European Council may convene a meeting in September in Malta, with about half of member states keen to end the tug-of-war.

UK No Deal preparations

It's a race against time and the British government is speeding up its preparations for a No Deal Brexit.

With a little more than two months to October 31st, London is starting to automatically enroll UK firms in a customs system.

A move that will enable companies to trade with EU member states after Brexit.

In the next two weeks, all the VAT registered firms in the UK which haven't already signed up to the the customs system, should receive a new ID number.

Without this number, they won't be allowed to trade with EU member states after the UK leaves the European Union.

An estimated 240 thousand UK businesses trade with the EU. So far, less than a third, 72 thousand, have registered for this Economic Operator Registration and Identification number.

The British Chambers of Commerce says the auto-enrollment is "long overdue" but still only "a first step".

The UK government also announced it will allocate around 10 million euros to councils to help make sure they are staffed to deal with any issues at ports.

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