Juncker says extra efforts needed for Italy, Greece (6)

Commission chief says will meet premiers of 'heroic' States

(ANSA) - Rome, June 30 - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated Friday that Italy and Greece needed extra help from the EU to cope with the Mediterranean asylum-seeker crisis. "Next week I'll meet the premiers of Italy and Greece (to talk about) what supplementary efforts the European Commission can make to alleviate the efforts of these two countries in their heroic battle," he said.
    Juncker also said that "the reform of the European asylum system has taken too long", expressing the hope that "unity will be demonstrated" over "the next six months" under the Estonian duty presidency of the EU.
    Juncker made the statement during a visit to the college of commissioners to kick off the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU.
    Italy took a formal step to protest the emergency with Brussels Wednesday and said that foreign ships may be stopped from docking in Italian ports unless the situation improves, with thousands of people arriving every day. Rome said the situation, with its impact on social and political life, was "unsustainable" and "at the limit".
    Premier Paolo Gentiloni, of the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD), on Thursday demanded the EU deliver "a concrete contribution" at a press conference at the end of a preparatory meeting in Berlin ahead of the G20. Italy has found an ally in Germany but less of one in its neighbour France.
    German Government Spokesperson Steffen Seibert said Friday that the countries worst-hit by the asylum-seeker crisis "must not be left alone" when asked about Italy's request for assistance.
    French President Emanuel Macros has said that France will only help with bona fide refugees and not the economic migrants that make up some 80% of the arrivals across the Mediterranean from Libya.
    European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Friday called for "solidarity" from France, saying Paris, too, "must do its part".
    Former European Commissioner Romano Prodi, the two-time former Italian premier said "Italy is not enough when it comes to 6,000 arrivals a day".
    Prodi said that Marcon's position was "concerning". If current trends continue, Italy is on track to receiving more than the record 180,00 migrants who landed in the whole of last year.
    Italy's call for more help and its threat to stop foreign NGOS from docking will be discussed at an informal EU interior ministers' meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, on July 6-7.
    Estonian Interior Minister Andres Anvelt said Friday that at next week's meeting "we will not give any answer (to Italy's migrant demands), but we will listen to what Italy says have been the changes in the last week" to see "how to address the question of protecting borders, ports and relations with Libya".
    Interior Minister Marco Minniti, who turned around from a US-bound flight to cope with more than 20,000 arrivals earlier this week, will report to parliament on the emergency Wednesday.
    The migrant emergency was a big issue in last Sunday's mayoral run-offs across Italy in which the PD fared poorly, losing several strongholds, and the anti-immigrant Northern League did well.
    Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti reiterated Friday that the situation was "no longer sustainable" and Italy could not make do with "pats on the back" instead of concrete aid.
   

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