Merkel urges migrant help for Italy

EU calls for common rules, not walls

(ANSA) - Rome, August 31 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday urged the European Union to help Italy on its migrant crisis just as the EU called for common rules rather than walls to address the emergency that has come into sharp focus with a string of deadly incidents.
    The UN said the vast majority of people trying to cross the Mediterranean were refugees, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Speaking in Berlin, Merkel said an agreement had been reached on the need to help Italy on this front.
    "There is great agreement - said Merkel - "on the fact that Italy must be helped" in the refugee crisis. It is not possible, the chancellor added, that so many migrants who reach Italy remain there. The chancellor continued saying that Europe must "move as a whole": "EU countries need to share responsibility on the preservation of asylum rights". "We need to have a fair quota system", she said.
    "The world - Merkel said - sees Germany as a country of hope and possibilities, it hasn't always been like that".
    And talking about managing the influx of refugees experienced by the country and Europe, Merkel called for "flexibility" for Germany, recalling that the country demonstrated it on several occasions, citing as examples "banks' bailouts and exiting nuclear power". "Courage is necessary", she added stressing there is zero tolerance for those failing to respect the dignity of asylum seekers.
    "No tolerance for those questioning the dignity of human beings", she concluded, referring in part to a series of protests by rightist extremists that have shocked Germany recently.
    A spokesman for the European Commission said Monday that barriers like Hungary's anti-migrant fence "don't send the right signal" and the EC "doesn't encourage the use of fences but of other measures" to guard frontiers. But the matter is one of national competence and therefore Budapest will not incur any "legal consequences".
    The first Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans said Monday that "it is necessary to quickly reach common European rules on asylum applications, knowing that solidarity and responsibility are indissoluble principles". Timmermans made the statement ahead of an emergency summit to be held on September 14.
    French Premier Manuel Valls also spoke about the immigration emergency from Calais, where he was visiting with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, tTimmermans and European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos.
    "We are here, Europe is here, Europe is mobilizing," said Valls.
    "We are facing an exceptional migration phenomenon: cooperation of all of Europe is necessary. The European Union can't abandon Italy and Greece. A joint solution is necessary", continued Valls.
    "It is necessary for Europe to act in the respect of its principles: humanity, solidarity, firmness". Europe has started to press for more forceful joint action after a string of recent incidents including two boat wrecks off Libya in which upwards of 300 people may have died, and the discovery of 71 corpses in a lorry on an Austrian highway.
    But Britain on Sunday took a step in the other direction as Home Secretary Teresa May saying the UK would only allow immigrants with jobs into the UK after immigration surged to record proportions.
    The EC responded to May's announced clampdown on Monday by saying "free circulation of European citizens is an integral part of the single market and a central feature of its success".
    The EC stressed, in a contention that Britain would disagree with, that the single market already doesn't allow benefit tourism of the kind the UK is bidding to stamp out. Free movement "is not an unconditional right", an EC spokesman said.