France Calls For Sanctions On European Union States Refusing To Accept Migrants

| June 24 , 2018 , 12:29 IST

France President Emmanuel Macron, on the eve of an emergency mini-summit in Brussels on the escalating migrant crisis, on Saturday said that European Union states that refuse to accept migrants should face financial penalties.

The statements from the French president come in the wake of Italy's new populist government declaring that its ports were closed to arriving migrants on foreign-flagged rescue ships.

"We can not have countries that benefit hugely from EU solidarity and claim national self-interest when it comes to the issue of migrants," said President Macron at a press conference in Paris alongside Spain's new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

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"I am in favour of sanctions being imposed in the event of no cooperation," he said.

"Once on European soil, we are in favour of setting up closed centres in accordance with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)... so that each country takes people who are entitled to asylum in an organised way," Macron said.

Italy's Deputy Prime Minister/Interior Minister Matteo Salvini slammed Macron's "arrogance" over the migrant issue.

"Six-hundred-and-fifty thousand landings in four years, 430,000 applications..., 170,000 apparent refugees currently housed in hotels, buildings and apartments at a cost exceeding five billion euros," said Salvini.

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"If for the arrogant President Macron this is not a problem, we invite him to stop the insults and to demonstrate generosity by opening the many French ports and ceasing to push back women, children and men" he said.

The controversy over arriving migrants arose after a German charity vessel with more than 230 migrants onboard remained in limbo off the coast of Malta after it was refused to dock in Italy.

"The Lifeline, an illegal ship with 239 immigrants on board is in Maltese waters," Salvini had said, adding, "These boats can forget about reaching Italy, I want to stop the business of trafficking and mafia."

Malta also refused to take the ship in, but delivered humanitarian aid.