Macron extends support to EU sanctions that refuse asylum to migrants

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday announced that he will back the financial sanctions against EU countries which refuse to accept migrants.

Macron was speaking on the eve of a hastily-convened summit on immigration in Brussels today between EU leaders on the migration dispute that is dividing Europe. “I am for myself in favour of mechanisms that indeed take this into account,” Macron said when asked about his views on possible financial sanctions.

Macron’s comments came after Italy’s new populist government defiantly declared that its ports were closed to foreign-flagged rescue ships, after accusing fellow EU members of failing to share the burden of migrant arrivals. Meanwhile, Spanish coast guards said that they had rescued nearly 600 migrants trying to make the perilous crossing from Africa early yesterday, while off the coast of Libya coastguards recovered bodies of five migrants and picked up 185 survivors.

The French president, speaking after talks in Paris with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday, said member states that benefit from EU cooperation but “claim national self-interest when it comes to the issue of migrants” should have sanctions imposed on them.

“Once on European soil, we are in favour of setting up closed centres in accordance with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)… so that each country takes people who are entitled to asylum in an organised way,” Macron said.

Macron’s comments drew a scathing response from Italy’s new populist government. Far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini denounced Macron’s “arrogance” over the migrant issue. “Six-hundred-and-fifty thousand landings in four years, 430,000 applications, 170,000 apparent refugees currently housed in hotels, buildings and apartments at a cost exceeding €5 billion.”

There are currently no closed migrant centres where applications are processed, with the exception of a few cases in Greece and Italy managed by the UNHCR.

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