Italy threatens EU with closure of ports to rescue boats

Series Title
Series Details 28.06.17
Publication Date 28/06/2017
Content Type

Italian news sources reported on the 28 June 2017 that the Italian Government had asked its ambassador in Brussels, Maurizio Massari, to formally present a request to the European Commission for help and express its inability to cope alone with the on-going migration crisis.

Just in the previous few days more than 12,000 people were said to have arrived by sea. The Italian government was said to be considering blocking boats carrying migrants from landing at its ports - in particular boats not flying the Italian flag, including those operated by various charities and NGOs, who were carrying out search and rescue operations in the sea between North Africa, in particular Libya, and Italy.

The European Commission said on the 29 June 2017 that it was was ready to give Italy fresh financial support. 'We support and we understand Italy's concern and we support their call for a change in the situation'.

'But what we're also saying is that any change in policy should first be discussed with other member states, and also properly communicated to the NGOs who are running these boats so that they have time to prepare'.

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said on the 1 July 2017: 'Italy is playing its part in receiving those rescued and providing asylum to those in need of protection. These efforts must be continued and strengthened. But this cannot be an Italian problem alone. It is, first and foremost, a matter of international concern, requiring a joined-up, comprehensive regional approach.

Europe in particular needs to be fully involved through an urgent distribution system, increased external engagement and additional legal pathways of admission. And the response to the immediate crisis must be matched by broader efforts by all concerned, to address the root causes behind migratory pressures, create better protection for people in transit, and address smuggling and trafficking'.

On the 2 July 2017 the European Union Commissioner for Refugees Dimitris Avramopoulos met with the Interior Ministers of Italy, France and Germany in Paris to discuss a 'coordinated approach' to help Italy.

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Related Links
The Guardian, 28.06.17: Italy considers closing its ports to boats carrying migrants
Euro|Topics: Debates, June 2017: Is Italy's plan to turn away rescue ships justified? / Overburdened Italy sounds the alarm
ESO: Information Guide: European Migration Challenges
ESO: Background information: Don’t close borders, manage them: how to improve EU policy on migration through Libya [ECFR: Policy Memo, June 2017]
ESO: Background information: NGOs under attack for saving too many lives in the Mediterranean
IOM: Migration Flows - Europe
BBC News, 28.06.17: Migrant crisis: Italy threatens to shut ports
Deutsche Welle, 28.06.17: Italy threatens to turn away foreign ships with rescued migrants
Politico, 28.06.17: Italy threatens to deny entry to foreign ships to force migration action
EUObserver, 29.06.17: Italy threatens to block NGO migrant rescues
The, 29.06.17: EU urges Italy not to close ports and offers more funds
EUObserver, 30.06.17: EU ready to help Italy in NGO dispute
The, 01.07.17: Talks in Paris on Sunday on Italy's migrant crisis
UN: UNHCR: Press Release, 01.07.17: High Commissioner Grandi urges more solidarity with Italy
BBC News, 02.07.17: Europe migrant crisis: Italy threatens to close ports as ministers meet
Deutsche Welle, 01.07.17: Refugee crisis: UN urges EU help Italy with 'collective action'
EurActiv, 03.07.17: Italy urges EU ports to take migrants as pressure builds
European Commission: DG Communication: STATEMENT/17/1876, 03.07.17: Migration: Joint declaration by Commissioner Avramopoulos and the Ministers of Interior of France, Germany and Italy
The, 03.07.17: Italy agrees to draw up migrant rescue 'code of conduct' with France and Germany
EurActiv, 04.07.17: France, Germany pledge more support for Italy on migrants, offer vague
Euro|Topics: Debates, July 2017: Help for overburdened Italy?
Deutsche Welle, 03.07.17: Italy warns of social upheaval as UN sees more migrant arrivals from Libya
The, 04.07.17: UN warns that Italy cannot handle migrant crisis alone
The Conversation, 04.07.17: Italy’s bluff to close its ports to migrant boats heightens tensions in the Mediterranean
The Guardian, 05.07.17: EU appeals for refugee aid as Mediterranean death toll continues to rise
Politico, 06.07.17: Germany rejects Italian proposal to open EU ports to migrants
EurActiv, 14.07.17: Italy proposes Libya pact to curb illegal migration
European Parliament: Press Release, 12.07.17: Mediterranean migration route: help for Italy and long-term solutions

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