Italian President Sergio Mattarella (R) and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier (L) during a joint press conference at the Quirinal Palace, Rome, Italy, 19 September 2019 | Photo: ANSA / Francesco Ammendola - Quirinal press office
Italian President Sergio Mattarella (R) and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier (L) during a joint press conference at the Quirinal Palace, Rome, Italy, 19 September 2019 | Photo: ANSA / Francesco Ammendola - Quirinal press office

Italian president Sergio Mattarella has stressed the need for shared responsibility of the management of migrant flows and argued the EU should handle the repatriation of people whose asylum requests have been rejected after meeting his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella called for "automatic mechanisms" for the redistribution of migrants in Europe and argued the EU should handle repatriations of people whose asylum requests have been rejected after meeting his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday. Steinmeier also met with Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte.


Mattarella called for a European agreement to deal with immigration not as an emergency but as an increasingly structural phenomenon, as shown by constant landings in Italy and Malta and NGO-run migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean. 

Mattarella concerned by the consequences of landings on new government 

A surge in migrant landings could endanger the stability of the new government, which League leader and former hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini has accused of being a "cabinet of betrayers" that "reopened ports". Conte's new government is formed by Salvini's former cabinet partners, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), and by the center-left Democratic Party (PD). Concern is growing for the volatile scenario in Libya as well as for the situation in Tunisia, where Italian and Tunisian sources say allegations that Germany could grant stay permits more easily could lead to a surge in departures. A possible agreement on the redistribution of migrants in the EU could also contribute to an increase in landings.

'Necessary for countries to feel common responsibility' 

"We think that it is necessary for countries to feel the responsibility to activate common redistribution mechanisms and that the EU should assume the duty of repatriations... for those who do not have the right to stay in the EU," Mattarella said. The EU should handle repatriations because it "is can do it more effectively than single countries, repatriating those who are not eligible for asylum and who must not remain in European countries, with respect for their condition and human rights," he said.
 

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