Brussels — The EU on Tuesday was considering extending air patrols to search for migrants crossing the Mediterranean but withdrawing ships that could save them, a change in policy that reflects Europe’s growing aversion to irregular arrivals. The agreement would greatly weaken Operation Sophia’s role in saving lives in the sea where nearly 2,300 people died in 2018, according to the UN. Italy, under the influence of the antimigration deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, has said it will no longer be the main point of disembarkation for people picked up from the water by Operation Sophia ships. Germany and other EU states are also not keen on hosting the people — most of whom are fleeing wars and poverty in Africa and the Middle East — but they do want the mission to continue. The discussion among EU diplomats over Operation Sophia, the mandate of which expires on Sunday, stems from feuds over migration that have damaged the bloc’s unity since a surge in chaotic Mediterranean arriva...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now