Financial Times: European interior ministers have vowed to intensify the fight against illegal immigration by pushing ahead with the creation of “platforms” outside the continent to stop migrants arriving into the EU. Herbert Kickl, Austria’s far-right interior minister, has the support of Germany and Italy in fortifying Europe’s external borders as part of an alliance of anti-immigrant governments determined to stop the flow of migrants to Europe.
At the heart of the plan is the creation of EU “disembarkation platforms” in regions such as north Africa for migrants who are rescued at sea. The EU’s 28 leaders last month promised to “swiftly explore” how to set up the centres after a marathon summit in Brussels. “It is a difficult situation but also a great opportunity to make progress. One year ago that didn’t seem to be possible”, said Mr Kickl, after a meeting of EU interior ministers in Innsbruck on Thursday.
Austria, which has just taken the helm of the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, is intent on shifting Europe’s migration priorities to securing the bloc’s borders against migration and increasing co-operation with countries of origin to take back their citizens. Germany, Italy and Austria have described themselves as an “axis of the willing” of countries set on toughening immigration controls. Mr Kickl met Horst Seehofer, Germany’s interior minister, and Italy’s Matteo Salvini for the first time ahead of the EU28 meeting, where the trio put forward a united front on their migration policy.
“All three of us know that this is going to be a Herculean task”, said Mr Seehofer. The EU’s June promise to create the disembarkation centres was scant on details, with interior ministers now taking up the task of how to find willing countries who would host the centres and ensuring they comply with international law.