PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt took part in an emergency meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss Europe's response to the Mediterranean migrants crisis. Photo: AFP/Emmanuel Dunand
Denmark’s opt-out on EU Justice and Home Affairs grants it exceptions from EU asylum measures, but PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt said that the nation would lend its support to the EU’s plan and increase its contributions to the Triton maritime frontier mission.
“I expect that today [the EU] will increase contributions to the Triton operation so we can save more lives, and Denmark will also contribute to that,” Thorning-Schmidt told the national press before leaving for a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels later on Thursday.
The PM stressed however that Denmark would “under no circumstances” take in a greater portion of refugees that come to Europe.
“Denmark is out of the shared asylum policies and we will not contribute to a different distribution [of refugees]. Overall, I don’t think there is much appetite for that. It would mean that some countries would take in considerably more refugees than they do today,” she said.
Thorning-Schmidt said she would use Thursday’s meeting in Brussels to encourage other European countries to increase their foreign aid.
“Denmark is one of the countries that assumes a large responsibility. And one of the things I will encourage my colleagues to do is to get them to also contribute 0.7 percent of their GDP to foreign aid,” she said.
Thorning-Schmidt said that with increased foreign aid, African countries could create better conditions for their people and provide assistance closer to the source of the problem.
In addition to stepping up the Triton operation, the EU will also try to capture or destroy human trafficking boats, something the Danish PM said was essential.
“We need to help capture these human smugglers. These are incredibly cynical people who first drain these poor people for their money and then send them out in decrepit boats. We need to do everything we can to catch the smugglers, hold them responsibile for their crimes and if it is possible to destroy their boats, then we should also do that,” Thorning-Schmidt said.
The EU’s plan also calls for greater cooperation efforts with the countries bordering war-torn Libya, which is viewed as the epicentre of the Mediterrean migrant crisis.
Thorning-Schmidt said the problems in Libya make it impossible for the EU to adopt the ‘Australian model’ in which arriving boats of refugees are denied entry and sent back.
“The Australian model can’t work, because Australia cooperates with Indonesia, with whom they have a good relationship. That’s why we can’t do it. Libya is not a state and we don’t have any cooperation with them,” the Danish PM said.
'Body bags' are pictured on Brighton beach in southern England by Amnesty International to highlight the refugee and migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. Photo: AfP/Ben Stansall/Scanpix