Saturday

27th Nov 2021

EU explores new migration 'zone' in north Africa

  • Over 3,500 people died trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean last year (Photo: DukeUnivLibraries)

The EU’s migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, is to visit Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco amid an Italian-led plan to set up migrant reception centres.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Thursday (12 March) after a meeting of the bloc’s 28 interior ministers, Avramopoulos said “I intend to visit Tunisia and Egypt, of course Morocco is included in my agenda, in order to create a zone in the area” to fight smuggling and irregular migration.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

His tour coincides with an Italian-led drive for the EU to create refugee reception centres in northern Africa and, possibly, in Sudan and Niger.

"It's about a humanitarian mission which would allow Europe to do screening and to dismantle a huge human trafficking market," said Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano.

The AP news agency reportsthat interior ministers from France, Germany, and Austria are keen on the idea and that Avramopoulos will also visit Vienna to flesh out details.

Italy is pressing the issue amid ever greater numbers of Mediterranean migrant crossings.

Around 220,000 people attempted the dangerous route last year, with most setting sail from war-torn Libya.

Avramopoulos earlier this month also proposed setting up special immigration attaches in EU delegations to handle asylum requests in the country of origin.

But when asked to elaborate on Thursday, he described the idea as “a long term project” and said there is no decision yet.

“It is something that we are working on right now, to see whether it is feasible and to see whether it is workable and whether it can prove itself efficient. Yes, the idea was launched, the decision was not made,” he said.

Migratory pressure has also increased in the Western Balkans, with calls for more resources to be given to the EU’s border agency Frontex.

The six Western Balkan countries registered 108,583 asylum applications last year, representing a 45 percent increase compared to 2013.

Latvia’s interior minister Rihards Kozlovskis, speaking on the behalf of the EU presidency, said the border agency needs more money and more staff.

EU to 'capture and destroy' migrant traffickers' boats

EU leaders are to ask foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to look into setting up a defence mission that would "identify, capture and destroy vessels" potentially used by human traffickers.

Opinion

Facing the EU's migrant crisis

It is time for the European Union to take on the responsibility for solving the migration challenges it faces.

News in Brief

  1. Covid variant: EU to block travel from southern Africa
  2. France and UK seek EU help on Channel migrants
  3. New Swedish PM who resigned after 7 hours gets second chance
  4. Belgium to decide on Friday on Covid measures
  5. UK rings alarm on new Covid strain in South Africa
  6. Turkish police use tear gas at women's rights march
  7. Poland calls for more Nato troops
  8. Ex-Navalny aide leaves Russia

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium goes into three-week 'lockdown light'
  2. MEPs list crimes of 'Kremlin proxy' mercenaries
  3. EU to open up 'black box' of political ads
  4. Can the ECB solve climate change and inflation on its own?
  5. EU set to limit vaccine certificate to nine months
  6. Surprise coalition in Romania without former Renew's Ciolos
  7. This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability
  8. West struggling to show strength on Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us