France remains tough in the dispute over refugees

Brussels (dpa) — In the European dispute over the admission of boat refugees, France is sticking to its tough course against the new right-wing government in Rome. After an EU crisis meeting in Brussels on November 25, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin reaffirmed that his country is only going to accept refugees from Italy again, when Rome ensures that rescue ships from aid organizations will no longer travel to France. “We need to get out of a situation in which the same states are called upon to receive ships and take on relocations from other member states,” Darmanin explained.

The minister was referring to the fact that Italy had recently denied the rescue ship “Ocean Viking” entry into a port, whereupon the ship had to sail to France with more than 200 migrants on board. The government in Paris was outraged by this and pointed out that rescue ships actually had a right to go to the nearest port. Italy, on the other hand, criticizes the lack of solidarity among other EU states when taking in refugees and has called for more support. In addition, crews of rescue ships are accused of promoting the business of human trafficking in the Mediterranean.

The current Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU considered the crisis meeting in Brussels a success, despite the differences of opinion among the EU states. According to Interior Minister Vit Rakusan, a new action plan from the EU Commission was welcomed. In particular, it provides for intensified cooperation with countries of origin and transit and launches a new program against human trafficking in North Africa. This could enable a special framework and guidelines from the International Maritime Organization for private sea rescue ships, which repeatedly bring hundreds of migrants to European ports. In addition, the solidarity mechanism, which was launched in June and is voluntarily supported by around 20 EU countries, should be put to better use.

According to the Interior Ministry in Rome, more than 94,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year. Compared to the same period of the previous year, the figure increased by around 53 percent. The responsible EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson had recently described the situation as unsustainable and pointed out that only few arrivals leave their countries of origin due to political persecution.

On November 24, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in the Bundestag that Germany currently has “no major migration crisis.” In the past, the German Government had also repeatedly pointed out to Brussels that, as a rule, significantly more asylum applications are filed in Germany every month than in Italy. According to the EU statistics office Eurostat on November 25, almost 17,000 applicants were registered in Germany in August alone, compared to around 6,000 in Italy.

Specific political decisions on how to deal with the new increase in migration figures are expected at the next regular meeting of interior ministers on December 8 at the earliest. By then, the EU Commission also wants to present an action plan on the increasing numbers of people coming to the EU via the countries of the Western Balkans. (November 25)

Macron hopes to get exemptions from Biden for European manufacturers penalized by American law

Paris (AFP) – As the French presidency announced on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron, who will be on a state visit to Washington next week, intends to obtain exemptions from his American counterpart Joe Biden for European manufacturers penalized by US legislation.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which came into effect last August, aims to reduce costs for the USA. It includes not only massive investments in the energy sector and in favor of the climate, but also generous subsidies for electric vehicles, batteries and renewable energy projects.

However, many subsidies will only be paid for products manufactured in the United States, which will, for example, favor American Teslas over German electric BMWs, and American steel for wind farm projects.

Emmanuel Macron will arrive in Washington on November 29 in the evening and commence his official visit the following day. (November 25)

Spain and the EU propose to UK to remove the “fence of Gibraltar”

Madrid (EFE) – The Spanish Government and the European Commission have submitted to the United Kingdom a proposal for the Spanish region Campo de Gibraltar – the southernmost part of mainland Europe, which borders the British overseas territory of Gibraltar – to become a “zone of shared prosperity.” This includes the removal of the border post known as “fence of Gibraltar” in order to promote the mobility of people and goods between the British colony and the European Union (EU).

Spain’s Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares announced the proposal on November 25 after a meeting in Madrid with the main local and regional authorities with jurisdiction in the area, during which he explained the scope of negotiations between Spain and the Commission on Gibraltar. The talks are at a very advanced stage, which Albares described as positive.

The Spanish proposal includes the protection and improvement of the rights of workers and beneficiaries of social benefits in Gibraltar while guaranteeing, with regard to customs, the freedom of movement of goods “without increasing risks for the EU’s internal market”, in particular in the area of unfair competition or illicit trafficking, such as tobacco. This implies for Spain to exercise, on behalf of the EU, functions of control and protection of the internal market, as customs controls between Spain and Gibraltar will be abolished. (November 25)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.