Summit for South EU Countries on Climate Change and Immigration
On Friday, Greece will host the 8th summit for south EU countries, centering on climate change and security challenges.
Greece is set to host a summit for southern EU leaders on Friday, which will tackle several issues including climate change, security challenges, and a possible wave of new immigrants from Afghanistan.
Greek Government Spokesperson Yiannis Economou announced that the meeting of the 9 southern EU leaders in Athena, which will be attended by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will investigate issues "jeopardizing safety and stability in the Mediterranean".
Topics on the agenda include migration and the situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban Movement's takeover, with a focus on the importance of joint action to combat climate change.
Greece's President Kyriakos Mitsotakis revealed that the summit will see continued talks on the protection of biodiversity and better cooperation on tackling wildfires. The Hellenic country has experienced raging wildfires that burned over 100 thousand hectares during the summer. Heatwaves have also caused wide-ranging fires as well in Spain, Italy, Croatia, France, and Cyprus.
The Champs Elysées had declared that the summit will be an opportunity for the exchange of information in the European mechanism for civil protection, and the necessity of making further use of this mechanism, which was adopted two years ago to enforce joint efforts in fighting wildfires.
The Athens summit will also witness a reaffirmation of the “commitments to the fight against deforestation and the management of forests in the Mediterranean and in terms of civil protection."
French President, Emmanuel Macron and his Mediterranean allies in the EU pleaded with Turkey in Corsica last year to stop its policy of "confrontation" in the eastern Mediterranean. As tensions with Turkey were subsiding since the last summit, it is expected that the EU will tackle the issues of migration with Ankara, in light of the situation with Afghanistan.
A New Immigration Wave?
The EU has been trying hard this year to avoid a strong flux of immigrants from Afghanistan like the one Europe saw in 2015 as a result of the war on Syria. At the time more than a million refugees came to EU countries, especially Greece and Italy.
Whereas Afghans constitute 45% of immigrants arriving in Greece since January 2021, the latter said it will no longer act as the "gateway to Europe."
The EU leaders are also planning on looking into the European pact on migration and asylum, whose negotiations had come to a halt on account of the pandemic.