EU commissioner to talk to Madrid about 'handling' of Open Arms problem
European Commission official to bring up issue of migrant rescue vessel confined to Barcelona port by Spanish authorities
The EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, has said he will speak to the Spanish authorities about the Proactiva Open Arms refugee rescue vessel, which has not been allowed to leave Barcelona's port for a month.
"I'm sure that in my discussions with Spanish officials together we’ll see how to deal with this problem," said Stylianides on Monday, during an event of the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona.
The Spanish port authorities refused permission for the Open Arms migrant rescue ship to leave Barcelona's port in January, citing problems with its certification. At the time, the ship was about to embark on a new search and rescue mission near Libya.
A refugee rescue boat of @openarms_fund has been blocked in Barcelona port by Spanish authorities for three weeks now. Take a look at the boat from the inside! To learn more: https://t.co/wI2pAZqHOV. pic.twitter.com/4e5QcPjs13— Catalan News (@catalannews) January 30, 2019
After describing the Spanish government's handling of migrants and refugees as "excellent," the commissioner said he had "no doubts" that Madrid would "comply with Europe's moral duty to refugees and migrants."
However, sources in the European Commission ruled out a meeting between Stylianides and the Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, who was also at the Union for the Mediterranean event in Barcelona on Monday.