The standoff sets in. Faced with “strong migratory pressure” and Rome’s refusal to apply European agreements, Germany announced this Wednesday to suspend the voluntary reception of asylum seekers from Italy. The German government informed Rome of its decision “at the end of August”, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry told AFP.
Berlin explains this decision by “the current strong migratory pressure towards Germany” as well as “the persistent suspension of transfers from Dublin by certain member states”, including Italy, which “reinforces the major challenges for Germany in terms of reception and accommodation capacities”. The Dublin regulation, very controversial among the Twenty-seven, provides that the country of arrival of a migrant in the EU processes his asylum application.
“Very tense situation”
Under the voluntary relocation mechanism, Germany has so far agreed to the transfer of 1,700 asylum seekers who arrived in southern Europe, out of the 3,500 people it has committed to welcoming . “Today we are faced with a very tense situation in many municipalities in Germany,” insisted the spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior.
This suspension “until further notice” concerns the “voluntary European solidarity mechanism” which organizes the relocation of asylum seekers from the country of arrival in the EU to other voluntary Member States, in order to relieve States like Italy and Greece, which are gateways to Europe.
More reception capacities
However, according to the German newspaper Die Welt, the Italian government of Giorgia Meloni no longer takes back asylum seekers who want to transfer it from other countries. “Out of more than 12,400 requests for care made to Italy this year until the end of August, ten transfers have been carried out so far,” confirmed Maximilian Kall, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior , during a government press briefing.
Giorgia Meloni, whose far-right Fratelli d’Italia party won the legislative elections a year ago on the promise of putting an end to m immigration, ured Wednesday that she was not surprised by the decision of Berlin. “The problem of relocation is secondary,” she insisted in an interview which will be broadcast on Wednesday and extracts of which were published by Italian press agencies. According to her, ” the question (…) is to stop arrivals in Italy. I still don’t see any concrete answers”
For years, Italy has been one of the main gateways for migrants going by boat from North Africa to Europe. The number of these people arriving by this route on Italian territory has jumped this year to almost 124,000 since January, compared to 65,500 during the same period in 2022, according to government data. Many end up on the island of Lampedusa, where the reception center warned on Wednesday that its capacity risked reaching a “critical threshold”. The Italian Red Cross, which has managed these facilities designed for fewer than 400 people since June, deplored the fact that more than 6,000 are now housed there.