Migration crisis ‘most important issue for Europe today’, Tusk says

Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council called on 14 September

A group of people are rescued in the Channel of Sicily, Italy (File Photo by Francesco Malavolta/IOM 2015)
A group of people are rescued in the Channel of Sicily, Italy (File Photo by Francesco Malavolta/IOM 2015)

The Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union has called an extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers on 14 September in Brussels.

“The situation of migration phenomena outside and inside the European Union has recently taken unprecedented proportions. In order to assess the situation on the ground, the political actions underway and to discuss the next steps in order to strengthen the European response, the Luxembourg Minister for Immigration and Asylum Jean Asselborn decided to convene an extraordinary JHA Council,” the Luxembourg Presidency said.

Taking to Twitter, Council President Donald Tusk, currenlty in Slovenia with Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Carar, said that the migration crisis was currently the “most important issue” for Europe.

“We need to alleviate unbearable human suffering and tragedies,” Tusk said,

After a presentation of migration flows by the European agencies Frontex and EASO (European Asylum Support Office), the meeting should discuss the programming of future work, in particular the return policy, international cooperation, and investigation and measures to prevent trafficking of human beings.

The meeting is being conveyed after Germany, France and Britain pressed for better processing of asylum seekers arriving in southern Europe and for a European Union-wide list of countries considered safe.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, France's Bernard Cazeneuve and Britain's Theresa May issued a statement Sunday after consulting in Paris the previous day. They stressed the need to set up "hot spots" in Greece and Italy by the year's end to ensure asylum seekers are fingerprinted and registered, allowing authorities to identify quickly those in need of protection.

Germany, which has seen many asylum requests this year from Balkan countries, is keen to identify "safe" countries to ease returning rejected asylum applicants.

In the month of July, the number of asylum seekers detected at EU’s borders more than tripled to 107,500 compared to the same month of last year, surpassing the 100,000 mark in a single month for the first time since Frontex began keeping records in 2008.

The figure was the third consecutive monthly record, jumping well past the previous high of more than 70,000 reached in June. Both the Eastern Mediterranean route and the Western Balkans were also well above the previous month’s highs.

The crisis reached new heights following the grim discovery of dead bodies in the back of a truck in Austria while more people continue to die at sea.