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Five EU countries turn against Brussels as its migration plan ‘lacks ambition’


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In a striking display of dissatisfaction with the European Union‘s migration policy, the Med-5 group, comprising five major southern European countries – Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and Spain – has called on the European Commission to increase its efforts to curb irregular migration.

The group criticised the EU’s recent controversial pact on migration and asylum, suggesting it “lacks ambition”.

The Med-5 held their first meeting since the European Parliament approved the new Migration and Asylum Pact on April 10.

At this “mini-summit,” the group emphasised its solidarity with the Canary Islands, which have faced significant migratory pressure from Africa.

Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, representing the host country, explained the choice of location: “The place is the message, a message of support for the Canary Islands in their constant efforts to face the challenge of migration and the solidarity they have shown in times of great difficulty.”

Grande-Marlaska was joined by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, Maltese Interior Minister Byron Camilleri, Greek Migration Minister Dimitris Kairidis, and Cypriot Asylum Service Director Andreas Georgiades.

The group issued a final statement indicating that the EU’s Migration and Asylum Pact does not entirely meet their countries’ needs.

While acknowledging it as a “lowest common denominator” that allows “progress in the right direction,” they called for more ambitious measures.

FRONTEX, the EU’s border control agency, reported that the bloc received 41,672 irregular immigrants by sea in the first quarter of this year. Of these arrivals, 13,535 came from the Canary Islands (Spain), 13,716 from the Eastern Mediterranean (Greece and Cyprus), 11,364 from the Central Mediterranean (Italy and Malta), and 3,057 from the Western Mediterranean (Spain, via the Straits of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea).

Malta’s role in dealing with migrants has come under scrutiny, with allegations of ignoring distress calls, delaying rescues, and illegal pushbacks to Libya, often involving the North African country’s unpredictable Coast Guard.

Faced with this challenging situation, the Med-5 representatives urged Brussels to invest more in preventing migratory flows. They suggested releasing additional funds for cooperation with countries of origin and extending agreements like those the EU has with Tunisia and Mauritania, Spain with Senegal, and Italy with Libya.

Greek Migration Minister Dimitris Kairidis stressed the urgency of the situation, pointing to the risks posed by human traffickers. He said: “Thousands of people are crossing the sea, putting their lives in the hands of mafias who do not care if they arrive, but only about the money.”

He stressed that only through greater cooperation on security and development with African countries could the dangerous migratory flows be reduced.

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