Protecting Europe’s borders a priority, says EU Commission chief

Brussels, June 6 (IANS/AKI) Securing the European Union’s external borders is the top priority for the bloc, EU Commission President Jean-Claude said on Wednesday, a day after the latest attempt to reform the bloc’s asylum policy ended in deadlock.

“For me, protecting our external frontiers is the top priority compared to all other questions,” Juncker told journalists at a joint press conference with Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

“We need a solution but I cannot set a timeframe,” he said.

Juncker described as “rather complicated” Tuesday’s ministerial summit in Luxembourg. At the summit, frontline Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece voted against proposed reforms to EU asylum rules including more financial help for crises, the compulsory relocation of asylum seekers as a last resort and ‘flexibility’ on quotas for eastern EU states.

Several Eastern European states also voted against the planned reforms, which would give frontline states more “responsibility” for registering arrivals while the Dublic Regulation – requiring migrants to apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach – would remain in force for another eight years.

The issue of reforms to the EU’s asylum system would now be reprised by the bloc’s summit of heads of state and government taking place in late June, Juncker stated.

Giuseppe Conte, the populist Prime Minister of Italy – where over 700,00 migrants have arrived in the past five years – called this week for the swift and mandatory resettlement of refugees.

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