Author: OMINA MCGUINNESS
THE European Union has failed to solve the migrant crisis and now it is paying the price with Italy’s populist government, Emmanuel Macron’s right-hand man has admitted. Christophe Castaner, leader of French President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche (Republic on the Move) party, said the reason for the rise in Italy’s populist parties was due to Brussels failing to get a grip on the crisis which has been bubbling away since 2015.
Mr Castaner, who is also secretary of state for parliamentary relations, said: “Migration policies across Europe have fallen short of expectations – France too has fallen short of expectations.
“We need to act on a European scale.”
Speaking of Italy’s new anti-establishment government, he said: “If Italy is today being led by a populist government, it is in part because Europe made a mistake – it failed to meet the expectations of the Italian people, who hoped [Brussels] would find a solution to the country’s migrant problem.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Friday approved western Europe’s first anti-establishment government, ending three months of political deadlock and turmoil.
Formed by the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement and far-right League party, the eurosceptic coalition has promised to overhaul EU rules on budget and clamp down on illegal immigration from Africa and the Middle East.
Mr Castaner also called for the creation of a European migration agency, whose role he said would be to deal with “border security and migrant integration”.
The Macron ally argued that Frontex, the bloc’s existing border and coast guard agency, “focuses solely on border security”, during the joint interview with Europe 1 radio, Les Echos newspaper and the television channel CNews.
He said: “Looking at immigration from a quantitative point of view alone isn’t enough. Europe needs to adopt a more nuanced, qualitative approach to the crisis by improving the reception of migrants and promoting integration.”
He called for more “European solidarity” over refugees, but that could only be achieved if European leaders were “provided with the means” to help asylum seekers, and Brussels “takes its share of the responsibility” for addressing the ongoing crisis.
Mr Castaner, however, reiterated Mr Macron’s claims the EU had to be “more generous” with real refugees but “firm” with economic migrants.
In April, France’s lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill designed to tighten the country’s immigration and asylum rules.
The bill, which has been criticised by human rights groups and leftist parties as “inhumane,” doubles to 90 days the time in which illegal immigrants can be detained, shortens deadlines to apply for asylum and makes the illegal crossing of borders an offence punishable by one year in jail and fines.