Italy right to ask for help with migrant arrivals, says EU

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Brussels, July 16 (IANS/AKI) The European Union executive on Monday hailed the disembarkation of some 450 migrants at the Sicilian port of Pozzallo and said Italy had been right to demand the relocation of over half the migrants to other EU countries in exchange.

“The Commission welcomes the fact that both ships, the Protector and the Montesperone were cleared to disembark at Pozzallo at 2 a.m. this morning,” the European Commission’s chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters here.

He was referring to two ships deployed with the EU border and coastguard mission Frontex, which picked up the migrants from an overcrowded boat on Saturday between Malta and Italy, who were then stranded at sea when the two countries each insisted the other should take the migrants.

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“This was made possible thanks to the six EU states who agreed to take a share of the 445 migrants on board.

“Italy has long called for regional cooperation on disembarkation and is right to do so,” Schinas added.

France, Germany, Malta, Spain and Portugal have agreed to take 50 migrants each while the remaining 195 will stay in Italy for now.

“The Commission however does believe that a hoc solutions such as this cannot be sustainable in the long-term and calls for a renewed push to come to a European solution on the basis of the European Council summit of June,” Schinas said.

At their June 28-29 June summit here, EU leaders controversially agreed to set up secure centres for migrants in the bloc, to tighten its borders, create ‘disembarkation platforms’ outside the bloc and to redistribute refugees among member states.

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