EU ministers fail to agree on temporary solution for distributing refugees

The EU home affairs ministers, gathered in Helsinki on Thursday, failed to reach a temporary solution for distributing refugees and taking responsibility for them. Some Member states have favoured refusing to even receive migrants, others have urged more solidarity, news wires reported.

Germany and France have sought to form an alliance of 10 or so countries for distributing refugees, with Italy still taking in some migrants. But Italy's far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini categorically rejected this plan. He told his counterparts that Italy was still against the principle of the nearest port being the one that has to take migrants. Salvini was backed by his Maltese colleague.

“The current situation of uncertainty does not benefit anyone, it only creates tensions (among EU member states),” Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for migration and home affairs, said in a joint news conference with the Finnish Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo in Helsinki. “While fighting smuggling and preventing irregular arrivals remains our priority, we cannot leave migrants at sea while we look for solution,” Avramopoulos said. “The challenges of sea arrivals are not - and cannot be - the sole responsibility of just a handful of member states.”

Meanwhile Carola Rackete, captain of the Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch 3, who eluded an Italian effort to block her from docking at an Italian port with migrants onboard called for the European Commission to do its best to avoid new political standoffs. She was questioned by Italian prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Agrigento on Thursday for allegedly aiding illegal immigration.

France said in Helsinki it will host a meeting in Paris next week with around 15 of the EU's 28 member states on the issue.




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