Spanish Minister of Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska at the start of a Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 28 September 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

EU members fail to seal migration pact after Italy pulls out

Brussels, Sept 28 (EFE).- Negotiations on the European Pact on Migration and Asylum suffered a last-minute setback on Thursday after Italy walked out.

The latest text presented on Thursday was supported by Germany, which had blocked an agreement in a previous meeting on July 26. Still, Italy opposed the most recent changes to the text. Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi left the meeting early for Rome.

According to Italian media, the latest changes introduced include the removal of the possibility of waiving rules on reception conditions in the event of mass arrivals of migrants, which Italy wanted, as well as provisions on humanitarian aid operations by NGOs.

Diplomatic sources have indicated that this is not a substantive disagreement but an internal Italian matter expected to be resolved shortly, a matter of “days.”

The Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlasca, whose country holds the presidency of the EU this semester, said at the end of the meeting that there were only some “nuances” remaining to be agreed upon and that he was convinced that a deal would be reached “in the coming days,” in any case “before” the next EU summit in Granada, which will take place on October 6th.

The Spanish minister insisted that there is “majority” support for the proposal presented on the Crisis Regulation, which establishes the rules to be applied in crises such as massive flows of migrants providing “à la carte” solidarity responses and exemptions in the general asylum rules.

The Crisis Regulation is one of the critical components of the European Pact on Migration and Asylum.

Although a clear majority is already on record on Thursday, European sources stressed that an agreement would only make sense with Italy’s support.

The next step will be to submit the proposal to the Committee of Permanent Representatives. Once it is verified that there is a qualified majority in support of the text, the agreement could be formalized and sent to the European Parliament for negotiations.

The European Pact on Migration and Asylum was presented by Brussels in 2020, and the European institutions want it signed before the end of the legislature in the first half of 2024. EFE