18 June 2018 Will Aquarius push for a real reform in the European Asylum System?

The Aquarius charity-run rescue ship carrying 629 migrants (mainly sub-Saharan Africans) arrived to the Spanish port of Valencia on 17 June after being turned away by Italy and Malta. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, took the opportunity to show a more liberal stance and welcomed the boat. The situation highlighted the European Union’s failure to agree on how to manage the huge influx of people fleeing poverty and conflict. Aquarius, run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) with Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee, arrived carrying 106 people rescued from unstable boats near Libya. The others had been transferred to an Italian coast guard vessel and a ship belonging to the Italian navy to make the journey safer. In Valencia, 2320 people were awaiting on shore, including volunteers, translators and health officials. Red Cross and Red Crescent Secretary General Elhadj As Sy said in a statement: “this sad odyssey of the people on the Aquarius is another reminder that all people, regardless of their nationality or immigration status, should have access to basic assistance and protection”. The migration situation the EU is facing is creating political divisions within EU member-states while fracturing the already weak consensus on migration issues at European level, the next European Council to be held on 28-29 June in Brussels gathering the European Leaders might be decisive on the migrant crisis which is top on the agenda and especially on the need to reform the asylum system.