France mobilized over migrants in central Mediterranean
European Union – European reception policy – Reply by the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a written question in the National Assembly
Paris, 3 March 2020
France is especially concerned about the situation of migrants in the central Mediterranean who are risking their lives to make the crossing. It is very actively engaged in seeking a long-term solution with its partners.
The preliminary agreement of Valletta, putting forward a temporary mechanism to manage the disembarkation of people rescued in the central Mediterranean, is not yet operational, pending commitments on resettlement by a sufficient number of member states. Only seven member states have volunteered at this stage (France, Germany, Italy, Malta, lux, Portugal and Ireland).
The preliminary agreement did, however, enable Italian ports to be reopened. Disembarkations therefore continue to be managed on a case-by-case basis, with coordination from the [European] Commission and the support of the EASO [European Asylum Support Office]. In this regard, it should be emphasized that between 24 and 28 January 2020, the ships Ocean Viking, Alan Kurdi and Open Arms rescued 407, 77 and 158 people respectively in the central Mediterranean.
It is not yet known what will become of the [Valletta] declaration in the framework of the Commission’s future proposals on the solidarity aspect of asylum reform, in the context of a resumption of migration via the central Mediterranean route since the beginning of 2020 and large-scale arrivals in Greece by sea.
The Commission is expected to present a new “asylum/migration” package in March 2020. France will be fully involved in the discussions that will subsequently begin, in order to strike the right balance between responsibility and solidarity, to ensure that those fleeing wars and persecution are protected under decent conditions./.