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04 July 2016

IOM and EU officials met with officials in Bratislava last week as Slovakia assumes the EU Council presidency. Photo:

Slovak EU Presidency Wants Narrative Change on Migration

Slovakia - About a year after the refugee crisis started to shake the European Union (EU), one of the most vocally critical countries over the response is now in charge with a promise to reduce divisions on the issue, writes Eric Maurice in euobserver.

Slovakia on Friday (1 July) took over the six-month presidency of the EU Council and migration, along with Brexit, will be the "predominant'" item on the agenda, its prime minister Robert Fico said.

The country "has its own clear ideas" on the matter, but will act as an "honest broker" in discussions, Fico insisted, while setting out what would be his balancing act.

"Migration can be a divisive subject," he noted. But Slovakia wants to "create enough space for discussion" and avoid "exacerbat[ing] differences between member states."

He said that his government would not drop its lawsuit at the European Court of Justice against the refugee relocation scheme that the European Commission designed last year.

But he praised several policies pushed by the Commission, like the "back to Schengen" plan, the border and coast guard and the blue card for foreign workers.

Read on

A Swiss flag flies above Lake Lucerne. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images.

EU Tells Swiss No Single Market Access if No Free Movement of Citizens

Switzerland – The European Union is to show its determination to make no concessions to the UK on Brexit terms by telling Switzerland it will lose access to the single market if it goes ahead with plans to impose controls on the free movement of EU citizens, writes Patrick Wintour in The Guardian.

The Swiss-EU talks, under way for two years but now needing a solution possibly within weeks, throws up the exact same issues that will be raised in the UK’s exit talks – the degree to which the UK must accept free movement of the EU’s citizens as a price for access to the single market.

The Swiss are desperate to strike a deal in order to give its politicians time to pass the necessary laws to meet a February 2017 deadline imposed by a legally binding referendum in 2014.

Read on

Migration in the News

  • UN reported that UNSG Ban Ki-moon welcomed China’s decision to join IOM, saying that it will make a “valuable contribution.”

  • Thomson Reuters and RT reported that almost 2,900 migrants have died in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe this year, making the first half of 2016 the deadliest on record, according to IOM.

  • The Telegraph reported that according to an Amnesty International report, refugees and migrants are subject to sexual violence, torture and murder at the hands of people smugglers and criminal gangs in Libya.

  • Reuters reported on photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi’s experiences on board the "Topaz Responder", a MOAS migrant rescue ship operating in the Mediterranean off Libya.

  • EU Observer reported that the number of irregular migrants trying to reach Italy from Egypt has doubled to about 7,000 in the past six months. Most were from the Horn of Africa and Sudan.

  • UNHCR reported that over 15,500 asylum seekers in mainland Greece have received 1-year ID cards that allow them to live there legally pending a final decision on their asylum applications.

  • Germany’s reported on the dwindling numbers of migrants crossing the Balkans to reach western Europe and the growing numbers trying to reach Italy by sea.

  • Jacobin reported that migrants and refugees in Italy were living as second-class citizens well before Europe’s current migration crisis.

  • News Deeply reported that with rising sea levels, Marshall Islanders face becoming climate refugees before the international community can decide what rights, if any, that status confers.

Trending on the Internet

  • New York Times reported that climate change and rising sea levels are also threatening the existence of the tiny Pacific island state of Kiribati. The government is planning for its demise, has bought land in Fiji and is urging skilled islanders to consider moving abroad.

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