Author: ROMINA MCGUINNESS
THE European Union will collapse if it continues to remain passive in the face of the escalating migrant crisis, the mayor of Paris has warned, adding France was not pulling its weight for refugees. The left-wing Anne Hidalgo also condemned the French government’s refusal to take in a migrant ship with some 630 migrants stranded on board after Italy refused to let it dock.
She told Le Journal du Dimanche: “France has failed to rise to the migration challenge. As for the European Union, if it continues to do nothing [to solve the crisis], it will implode.”
The mayor also slammed French President Emmanuel Macron’s tough new immigration and asylum policy, saying she found the government’s hardline stance towards immigrants “hard to fathom”.
She said: “The president describes himself as very pro-European, and yet on the refugee issue, France has failed to live up to expectations.”
She said: “François Hollande and [former interior minister] Bernard Cazeneuve didn’t find a magic solution [to the migrant crisis], but concluded that taking in migrants was the responsibility of the host member state.
“Mr Macron’s interior minister Gérard Collomb, for his part, wants to send back all migrants who are already registered in another EU country, the so-called Dubliners. But the problem is that Italy, Greece and Germany don’t want to take these migrants back. As a result, these people often find themselves in an immigration blind spot.”
Mr Macron has been criticised over his new bill to tighten the country’s immigration and asylum rules, which doubles to 90 days the time in which illegal immigrants can de detained, shortens deadlines to apply for asylum and makes the illegal crossing of borders an offence punishable by one year in jail.
Mrs Hidalgo also criticised France’s refusal earlier this month to take in a humanitarian rescue ship with 630 migrants stranded on board after both Italy and Malta refused to let it dock.
The migrant boat dispute opened reignited debate over the EU’s handling of the crisis and exposed bitter divisions in the bloc over illegal immigration, with countries at the forefront of the crisis, namely Italy, calling for greater European solidarity and a profound reform of the EU’s asylum rules.