MADRID (AP) — Spain and Italy want to forge a new strategic alliance that can shape the European Union’s future policies on migration, the two countries’ foreign ministers said Friday.
Spain’s Arancha González Laya and Italy’s Luigi Di Maio also said after talks in Madrid that an informal document on proposed EU-wide migration policies has been in the works for weeks.
They said they expected backing from other countries in the Mediterranean region — where most of the tens of thousands of refugees and migrants seeking a better life in Europe every year first arrive.
“We are going to work together to strengthen relations on this issue,” González Laya told reporters shortly after their meeting.
The European Commission wants to begin a reform of the asylum system and policies of the 27 members of the EU later this year. One of the key hurdles is how to make all members — including eastern countries that refuse to take in migrants — help shoulder the burden that mostly falls on Mediterranean countries.
“We are on the border of the EU, we know better than anybody else the migration phenomenon, and we have the capacity and the expertise to deal with this issue,” Di Maio said.
He added that Spain is a key partner for Italy on migration issues because of its influence in northern Africa.
The ministers gave minimal details about the contents of the proposal or when they expected to share it with other countries.
Di Maio also said strengthening control on weapons destined to Libya — where many of the migrant trafficking mafias operate — was a key element for Italy.
Spain’s González Laya said Rome and Madrid’s proposal would be based on the principles of “justice” and “solidarity.”