'A turning point': Italy praises plan to overhaul Europe's asylum rules

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'A turning point': Italy praises plan to overhaul Europe's asylum rules
Rescued migrants in Palermo, Sicily, on September 2nd, 2020. Photo: AFP

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday welcomed a plan to change the so-called Dublin Regulation on how asylum claims are processed in the European Union, describing it as a "turning point".


European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen vowed on Wednesday to "abolish" the existing rules, which require asylum seekers to file their claims in the first EU country where they set foot.
Rome has long argued that this is unfair, as those who attempt the dangerous central Mediterranean crossing to Europe land on its shores or have to be rescued off its coasts.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Brussels. Photo: AFP
Leyen's announcement "gives us great pleasure," Conte said, answering a question from journalists during a visit to a school in the capital..
"Italy has worked towards this a lot, because we consider the agreement (the Dublin Regulation) to be to the detriment of the countries of first-entry
landings," he said.
"This is a turning point," he added.


Greece also welcomed plans to update the rules, with migration minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos saying Thursday the Dublin Regulation "has failed and
must be changed".
The Dublin Regulation came into force in 2013 as an agreement between the then-28 members of the EU including Britain, as well as Switzerland, Iceland,
Norway and Liechtenstein.
But its weaknesses were quickly exposed by the migration crisis of 2015, stoking anger in Greece and Italy where governments felt they had been left to
face the challenge alone.


Since coming to power in 2019, Italy's current government has been pushing for a new, automatic system for distributing migrants rescued in the Mediterranean between European countries.

Such a deal would put an end to case-by-case negotiations over who will take those saved during the perilous crossing from North Africa, which have left vulnerable asylum seekers trapped in limbo at sea for lengthy periods.



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