Italy, France, express support for 'asylum centres' in countries of departure

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Paris after spending several days at loggerheads over the fate of the rescue ship Aquarius which has 600 African migrants on board.

The Aquarius was diverted to Spain after disagreement on who should take on its 600-strong migrant complement
The Aquarius was diverted to Spain after disagreement on who should take on its 600-strong migrant complement

Italy and France have expressed their support for the setting up of EU "asylum centres" in countries where many migrants begin their journeys to Europe.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Paris after spending several days at loggerheads over the fate of the rescue ship Aquarius.

Italy had refused to accept the vessel, which was carrying more than 600 African migrants, diverting it to Spain.

At the moment, the EU migration system says that asylum seekers must apply for protection in the country they first arrive in within the EU, with few exceptions - under a law known as the Dublin regulation.

This has placed a significant burden in recent years on the countries where most undocumented migrants arrive.

Conte and Macron have now agreed the current system must be reformed.

Macron proposed building migration centres in countries where the migrants embark on their dangerous sea crossings to Europe, including Libya.

He said many of those attempting the journey had "no possibility of obtaining asylum in Europe", but die in the attempt - or spend months living in terrible conditions only to be sent home. These problems could be avoided by processing asylum claims in applicants' home countries, he said.

Conte, the head of Italy's new populist coalition government, agreed with the plan, calling for widespread reform of the current system.

More in World

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition

Subscribe