Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum Policy and Migration Theo Francken, a Flemish nationalist, on Tuesday took advantage of the crisis between Italy and Malta over the Aquarius to relaunch the idea of setting up a refugee camp in North Africa, where asylum seekers heading for Europe could be rerouted.
Francken tweeted that there would be no other possible solution, seeing as Italy says it can no longer deal with migrant flows on its own and Malta is unwilling to help.
Italian decision 'not a surprise'
A few hours after the tweet, Francken republished on social networks an excerpt from a 1997 Italian newspaper article to remind the public that even the ''center-left government under (Italian prime minister, Ed.) Romano Prodi had closed the gates to boats from Albania''.
''Salvini's decision is not a surprise,'' he wrote. ''He had clearly said what he would do'', possibly in search of new alliances in Europe to strengthen the front of countries that - given the stalemate over Dublin Regulation reform - want to halt migration flows by tightening the EU's external borders.
Working on a pilot project
A group of states led by Austria under conservative chancellor Sebastian Kurz and including Denmark are working on a pilot project in a non-EU country on the European continent. However, even Kurz - when he was the foreign minister of a government led by Socialist Christian Kern, had repeatedly insisted on the need to build refugee camps in North Africa, where requests for international protection in Europe could be processed. The idea has long been supported by Hungarian leader Viktor Orban as well.
Last week Francken, known for his extremist positions, engaged in polemics with European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, saying that there is the need to stop migration flows through the adoption of an Australian model and push-backs.