By: Valerie Johnston
Last week, seven countries from the southern EU demanded that northern countries start footing their end of the bill when it comes to African refugee migration. With the Mediterranean Sea being crossed almost daily in dangerous journeys away from Libya and other countries, countries such as Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, France, Portugal, and Malta are feeling the biggest burden.
The group is not demanding relief from assisting in refugee rehoming; far from it. The primary call was for shared responsibility with countries farther to the north, where natural migration has yet to truly occur in the same numbers as it has in the south. The request included three tenants: the cooperation among countries where transportation to final destination would occur; re-opening admissions for irregular migrants across the EU; and an expanded, shared use of the European coastguard.
Overall, the group of southern countries desired a common EU policy on immigration that outlined a way for all countries to share the financial and physical burdens of providing asylum, according to Spain’s secretary of state for the EU, Jorge Toledo. He also said that the southern nations were protecting the entire border of the whole EU, including those northern countries that have yet to pitch in their fare share.
The next meeting to discuss the proposal is set for the end of April. Currently, the EU provides only minimal funding towards border patrol, leaving national border protection to be funded by individual governments. The newly created EU border guard, Frontex, may offer the solution for a unified front equally funded by all parties, although this solution is far from perfect. Austria, for example, has faced a forced acceptance of more than 90,000 refugees due to this program. More neg