Picture shows crosses at the site of the shipwreck of Cutro. |  Photo: ANSA/CARMELO IMBESI
Picture shows crosses at the site of the shipwreck of Cutro. | Photo: ANSA/CARMELO IMBESI

In discussions surrounding the shipwreck that took place off the coast of Calabria on February 26, EU commissioners firmly defended Frontex's response.

"Frontex did all it could do," said EU commissioner for Internal Affairs Ylva Johansson on March 8 together with Margaritis Schinas, vice president of the European Commission.

The Swedish commissioner defended the work of NGOs as well, stating: "They do a great job rescuing lives at sea, but it is also important for coordination to exist."

"Coordination" seems to be the key word when it comes to handling migration in the EU corridors.

The EU, for the moment, cannot do more than this, the officials say.

Commissioner Johansson's account of the Cutro shipwreck

In the case of the Cutro massacre, Johansson said she regrets just one aspect of the EU response: "If the airplane (rented by Frontex) had had more fuel, it would have noticed the worsening of the atmospheric conditions."

Frontex otherwise has little to blame itself for, she said.

"Frontex was operating as a support and under Italian command. With the thermal camera, they noticed that probably many people were under deck and the video filmed was sent directly to the center in Rome," the EU Commissioner said, underscoring that "the airplane patrolled the area as long as it was possible".

And, she added, "Frontex and Italian authorities thought that it was not a search-and-rescue operation."

No EU migration breakthrough expected any time soon

When it comes to EU handling of the bloc's migration problem, no significant breakthroughs are expected any time soon.

On the contrary, the interior ministers of northern countries will continue to pose the problem of reinstating the Dublin system, asking countries like Italy to take back migrants who first reached their turf as first arrival.

However, as the months go by, one aspect is becoming clear: before the European elections of 2024, a new pact for asylum and migration will need to be introduced.

"Otherwise the sovereignists and Euro-skeptics will have an additional weapon," said Schinas.


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