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Von der Leyen calls for EU migration pact

August 2, 2019

The incoming head of the European Commission said "effective and humane" measures are needed to solve the thorny issue of migration. Italy in particular has been calling for the EU's asylum rules to be changed.

The incoming head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, meets with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome
Image: picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS/R. Monaldo

Ursula von der Leyen, the next leader of the European Commission, called for a new EU migration deal on Friday during a visit to Rome.

"I want to propose a new pact for migration and asylum because I think we need a new and fresh view... on migration," von der Leyen said at a press conference after talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

"We know that migration will not go away; it is inherent in a globalized world. What we do need are procedures that are effective and humane at the same time," the German politician added.

The issue of migration has pit EU member states against one another, with Italy urging for a fairer distribution of asylum-seekers across the bloc, while eastern member states have refused to accept refugee quotas. The Italian government has also come under fire for blocking migrant rescue ships from docking.

Read more: Can the EU's Ursula von der Leyen fulfill her promises

Von der Leyen ready to fight

Rethinking asylum rules

Von der Leyen acknowledged that Italy, Spain and Greece are "geographically exposed" to migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

The European Union's asylum rules are currently outlined in the Dublin Agreement, which states that asylum-seekers and refugees must be processed in the first EU country they arrived in.

Speaking at the press conference on Friday, Conte called for the Dublin Agreement to be adapted.

"We cannot think the problem is just for those countries where migrants first land," he urged.

Von der Leyen's visit to Rome was the latest stop in her EU tour aimed at building consensus for more unified EU foreign policy and a closer defense union.

So far, the former German defense minister has met with leaders in France, Spain and Croatia — as well as those in member states that have a more contentious relationship with Brussels, including Poland, Italy and Hungary.

Von der Leyen is due to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker as the head of the EU's executive body in November.

Germany's new asylum law

rs/amp (AFP, dpa)

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