Macron Discusses Sanctions, Solutions in Migrant Issue

President Macron

On Saturday, June 23, 2018, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, officially announced that he supports financial sanctions against any countries in the European Union (EU) which will not accept any migrants from outside the continent.

He made this statement in a press conference in Paris, where he was meeting with Pedro Sanchez, the new prime minister of Spain.

"We can not have countries that benefit hugely from EU solidarity and claim national self-interest when it comes to the issue of migrants," he explained, and added "I am in favor of sanctions being imposed in the event of no cooperation."

Just prior to this press conference, the two leaders had also announced that they are in favor of opening closed reception centers near the locations where migrants first set foot on European soil. The migrants can then be held there while European governments decide whether or not to accept their asylum claims.

Macron explained that these centers would be in line with rules from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and would allow the process to be done in a more appropriate, less chaotic fashion. (Only a few such centers currently exist, in Greece and Italy.) Macron added that those who do not qualify for asylum should be returned directly to their homelands, rather than passing through other countries.

This echoes statements that he made recently with the new Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte. Leading a right-wing coalition, Conte has been critical of migration due to the fact that Italy has been overwhelmed with taking in a disproportionate number of immigrants; he and Macron agreed that new methods are needed to sort through the various cases and spread the burden more evenly.

Some in Italy were critical of Macron's newest statements, however. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said that the French president exhibited "arrogance," and noted that there have been "650,000 landings in four years, 430,000 applications... 170,000 apparent refugees currently housed in hotels, buildings and apartments at a cost exceeding five billion euros."

The migration issue is currently dividing just about every European country, with the EU and many other in the establishment favoring the newcomers while the hoi polloi object to the challenges they create. Italy is one of many countries that have elected far-right parties running on an anti-immigration platform, which also tend to favor either downplaying or eliminating their nations' status in the EU.

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