Italy blocks extension of EU migrant mission in the Med
Following an EU Committee report into the operation Sophia which said the undertaking is not working, EU members seem less willing to continue the mission.
The mission which, as the report says, was failing to deliver its mandate of disrupting the migrant smugglers’ networks, was supposed to be extended to the end of 2018.
It is, however, still uncertain whether the mission will continue its mandate which, as it now stands, runs until July 27.
Discontent with other EU member states’ efforts on the migrant issue, Italy blocked the extension of the mission during a Brussels meeting on Monday. Italian media reports even said the country was considering issuing “temporary visas” to the migrants which would allow up to 200,000 migrants to leave Italy.
Apart from Italy, Belgium and Austria also voiced their opposition to the mission. Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz proposed a “total closing” of the Mediterranean route while Belgium’s migration minister Theo Francken even called for a withdrawal of the Belgian frigate BNS Louise Marie from the mission.
Despite all this, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini is still positive the migrant mission would receive an extension which will allow it to operate outside Libyan waters to December 2018.