STRASBOURG, SEPTEMBER 13 – In his address on the State of the Union 2017, the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker paid tribute to Italy for its role in the migration crisis. “I cannot talk about migration without paying strong tribute to Italy for their tireless and noble work”, Juncker said: “We will continue to offer strong operational and financial support to Italy. Because Italy is saving Europe’s honour in the Mediterranean”.
In his speech in front of the European Parliament Juncker spoke of a “collective responsibility” on behalf of Europe to address and improve migrants’ living conditions in Libya. “I am appalled by the inhumane conditions in detention or reception centres. Europe has a collective responsibility, and the Commission will work in concert with the United Nations to put an end to this scandalous situation that cannot be made to last.”
The President of the Eu Commission expressed sadness “because solidarity is not yet equally shared across all our Member States”, even though Europe as a whole has continued to show solidarity. “Last year alone, our Member States resettled or granted asylum to over 720,000 refugees – three times as much as the United States, Canada and Australia combined. Europe, contrary to what some say, is not a fortress and must never become one.Europe is and must remain the continent of solidarity where those fleeing persecution can find refuge”. Before the end of the month, the Commission will present a new set of proposals with an emphasis on returns, solidarity with Africa and opening legal pathways.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni thanked Junker for his tribute to Italy and praised the EU leader’s speech for his “high European spirit”.
“Solidarity cannot be exclusively intra-European”, added Juncker: “We must also showsolidarity with Africa. Our €2.7 billion EU-Africa Trust Fund is creating employment opportunities across the continent but is currently reaching its limits”, he warned calling upon all Member States to match their actions with their words and ensure the Africa Trust Fund does not meet the same fate of the WFP in 2015 when many migrants headed towards Europe because the UN’s agency ran out of funds. (@OnuItalia)