(Strasbourg) “Since the installation of the new government in Italy, I have not had the opportunity to meet Minister Salvini yet. I hoped I would meet him at the Council of Interior Ministers but he had an important official engagement” in Italy. “I am waiting to meet him and cooperate with him, who holds an important ministry, and I am sure we will join forces in our common commitment” in migration. “When I meet him, I will be glad to report about that”. A diplomatic answer was the one given by the EU Migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, to the question about a personal meeting with the new Italian Minister of the Interior. In Strasbourg, Avramopoulos tells about the Commission’s ideas for the EU long-term budget for migration and borders. “We are planning to allocate three times as many funds”, he explains, from the current 13 million euros to 35 billion euros for 2021-2017, split into two key sections: asylum and migration, and borders and security. “A better management of external borders and migration will always be the key priorities of the European Union, the member states and our citizens in the years to come. Bigger challenges – he states – demand bigger resources”. The press conference repeatedly goes back to the Aquarius-case: “it reminds us that migration is not a theoretical fact, it is a real fact, because it concerns human beings”.
Avramopoulos says that a lot of efforts have been made in the last three years to build a European migration policy and that arrivals have remarkably decreased, then he repeatedly thanks Italy for the efforts made in facing migration. “But – he adds – the Aquarius affair shows that the job is not over at all. A common approach” to migration, homing and border control “is required”.