Spain and France agree to ask for more European solidarity and cooperation with third countries for migration

They defend the European fund against Poland and Hungary but disagree on Turkey and do not advance proposals for the EU-Mercosur agreement

MADRID, 30 (EUROPA PRESS)

The Secretary of State for the EU, Juan González-Barba, and his French counterpart, Clément Beaune, agreed this Monday on the need for greater European solidarity to manage migration and curb illegal migration, as well as the need to work and involve more the countries of origin and transit.

They have stated this at a press conference after meeting in Madrid in which, however, they have not gone down to the details. Beaune has not elaborated his proposal that he has mentioned in interviews about the possibility of restricting visas to personalities from countries that do not accept the repatriation of illegal immigrants.

Thus, he has limited himself to saying that a discussion and an approach is necessary between the European partners on the “levers” and “incentives” that European countries can develop towards the countries that are the origin and transit of migrants and also have their own challenges. “We want to cooperate so that there is European support for these countries but that there is also a commitment on their part to help us,” he said.

The two have agreed on the need to reinforce the external dimension of the migratory pact. According to González-Barba, “the Spanish experience shows that cooperation with countries of origin and transit, operational cooperation and the opening of legal channels are the main instruments to control irregular immigration.”

Beaune, for his part, also pointed out that France has shown solidarity with its European partners every time it has been necessary to welcome immigrants, but that a permanent mechanism is “indispensable”. However, it has not commented on the working document that Spain handed over to the EU last week with other partners from the south of the EU, all of them first-entry countries (Italy, Malta and Greece).

RECOVERY FUND

The two officials have also closed ranks regarding the European post-Covid recovery fund and its conditionality to respect the rule of law despite the blockade maintained by Poland and Hungary. Beaune has been convinced that it will be possible to find solutions in a few weeks, but “if the blockade persists, other options can be considered.”

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González-Barba, who will travel to Poland this Tuesday, insisted that, for Spain, the text negotiated by the German presidency of the EU and the European Parliament “is the only one that can generate the necessary consensus.” Spain, he said, does not conceive that on January 1 the recovery fund may not be in force.

PCR TO ENTER IN SPAIN, NOT IN FRANCE

At the bilateral level, Beaune has ensured that there are no misgivings between Spain and France regarding the different entry control measures in the framework of the pandemic. Spain requires negative PCR for travelers entering by boat or plane, but France does not.

González-Barba has pointed out that it is a demand of the autonomous governments – “co-governance in the Spanish case, as you well know, is more complicated, he said – and has influenced that, in any case, it is about minimizing the effects on mobility.

From the outset, he pointed out that the French PCR certificates are being accepted, making a “flexible interpretation so as not to create more difficulties.” He also recalled that those who enter by land are not required, so that the inhabitants of cross-border areas are exempt.

In any case, they have agreed to stay in contact to see if improvements in the sensitivity of the cheaper and less laborious antigen tests are announced in the coming weeks, and they can start using them.

The two European officials have highlighted the close cooperation of both countries against terrorism and have jointly committed to strengthening European instruments. At the bilateral level, they are working to hold a Summit of the two governments in the first months of 2021 in France – the last one was held in Malaga in 2017.

However, Madrid and Paris continue to have different positions on how to deal with the tensions between Greece and Cyprus with Turkey. González-Barba has reiterated his solidarity with the European partners and has insisted on asking for a “negotiated solution between the parties avoiding incidents” that could prevent it. Beaune, however, has insisted on making “decisions that translate into collective firmness.”

Another matter of discrepancies is the EU-Mercosur agreement, discussed at the meeting but only to make an “assessment of the status of ratification” of the agreement. González-Barba has insisted on defending that it would be beneficial not only for Spain but also for the EU and to strengthen the European presence on the continent.

France is one of the countries that insist on demanding environmental guarantees from Ibero-American countries, while Spain recently signed a letter together with the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Portugal and Sweden to ask the European Commissioner for Trade , Valdis Dombrovskis, the signing and ratification of the Agreement.

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