Strasbourg, Feb 13 (IANS/AKI) European Union countries must take shared responsibility for handling the influx of boat migrants to the bloc – as leaders agreed at a summit in June last year, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said.
“Migration can’t be managed single-handedly. We need joint efforts as was concluded at the European Council meeting last June,” Conte told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
The EU is under an “illusion” to think that the issue of migration can be solved by boosting its coastguard and external borders agency Frontex, Conte argued.
“The management of migration needs to be decoupled from the illusion that we can fix the problem by protecting the EU’s maritime borders with massive expenditure on thousands more Frontex agents at a further cost to front-line states, whose security this would also impact,” he said.
Despite a dramatic fall in the number of migrants arriving in Italy last year, hundreds were stranded in the Mediterranean for days upon weeks after interior minister Matteo Salvini controversially refused to allow them ashore until other states agreed to shelter them.
The number of migrants entering the EU last year fell by a quarter compared with 2017 to an estimated 150,000, the lowest level in five years, according to Frontex.
The total migrant arrivals in 2018 was also 92% below the peak of the migration crisis in 2015.