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France proposal on migrants falls short says minister

migrants outside the kokkinotrimithia refugee camp on the outskirts of nicosia

The European Union needs to show solidarity on the issue of irregular migration in a tangible way, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Monday, adding that the latest proposal by France seems to fall short of that.

Speaking in parliament, Nouris mentioned the proposal floated by France – which currently holds the EU presidency – for a ‘voluntary solidarity pact’ by which some 10,000 asylum seekers arriving in so-called ‘frontline’ countries would be re-distributed among EU member states.

Cyprus’ position is that any such pact must be compulsory, not voluntary, and that the European Commission itself should strike up repatriation agreements with third countries – a centralised arrangement binding for all EU member states.

Nouris said the EU’s five ‘frontline’ countries – Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain and Malta – expected to receive around 150,000 new asylum seekers in 2022 overall. Cyprus alone has seen 11,000 new asylum applicants during the first five months of the year.

As such, the French proposal did not appear realistic in terms of addressing the real problems.

“It raises the realistic question: were the French proposal to be adopted, it would mean that 10,000 of the 150,000 new applicants would be re-settled [across the EU], so the 140,000 additional applicants would remain in the five frontline countries,” explained Nouris.

“And if so, it would be practically impossible for existing migration and asylum systems to cope.”

The French migration proposal will be discussed in Luxembourg on Friday.

 

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