Monday

9th Dec 2019

EU to use development aid to stop migrants

  • The EU is the largest donor of development aid to Africa (Photo: UNHCR Photo Download)

EU leaders want to use development assistance to motivate African governments to stop “illegal migration and to combat the smuggling networks.”

The plan is part of a broader proposal on migration agreed by EU leaders on Friday (26 June) at a summit in Brussels.

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The EU is the biggest development aid donor to Africa.

How the assistance will be used as an “incentive” has yet to defined. But the issue will be discussed at an EU-Africa summit in Malta later this year.

The Valleta summit will ask African nations to fight against smugglers, step up return policies for irregular migrants in Europe who don’t qualify for asylum, and address the root causes of why people leave.

The summit conclusions also speak of using EU assistance and policies to “create incentives” to implement existing readmission agreements and draw up new ones.

The EU currently has 17 readmission agreements.

It also notes “development policy tools should reinforce local capacity-building, including for border control, asylum, counter-smuggling and reintegration.”

Relocation and resettlement

EU summit leaders also agreed to distribute 40,000 asylum seekers in Italy and Greece across member states and resettle 20,000 refugees over two years.

EU Council president Donald Tusk described the summit debate to reporters “as one of the most difficult” in his eight years in Brussels.

“It was very tough and honest, frank discussions about words, but maybe I’m too traditional but in my opinion, words have their consequences", he said.

Discussions flanked issues over sovereignty, with some capitals unhappy about the European Commission telling them they have to relocate migrants based on binding rules.

“For the commission, what was important was that we were able to agree on 40,000 for relocation and 20,000 for resettlement”, said commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

He noted some member states had preferred a voluntary commitment.

“Others, including myself the commission, would have preferred binding rules,” he said.

Liberal party leader Guy Verhofstadt, for his part, in a tweet described the haggling between EU leaders as “sad”.

Binding rules had received a hostile reception from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia and other capitals.

In the end, the final decision anchored on allowing member states to set the rules on how to distribute the 40,000 over two years.

“What is in the text protects and serves the interests of the Hungarian people”, Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban told reporters.

New distribution key in July

The next step is to come up with a new distribution key.

The summit proposal asks member states “to agree by consensus by the end of July on the distribution of such persons”.

The task falls on interior ministers and the incoming Luxembourg EU presidency.

The commission wants a qualified majority vote on the new plan. The member states want a “consensus”.

An EU source told this website member states will try to reach the target number.

But if they don’t succeed, the commission’s proposal, to adopt a distribution key by qualified majority, still stands, noted the source.

Frontline reception centres

Earlier draft conclusions seen by this website had also called for “structured border zones and facilities” for migrants.

The wording in the final conclusions has since been changed to “first reception facilities.”

But the concept remains the same.

The idea is to quarantine disembarking migrants in Italy and Greece into centres where they will then be fingerprinted and identified.

The EU’s border agency Frontex, along with the EU’s police agency Europol and the EU’s asylum support agency Easo, will screen them.

The commission has also been asked to come up with a “roadmap by July 2015 on the legal, financial and operational aspects of these facilities.”

Opinion

EU fiscal rules, migrants and Belgium's trick

Belgium has found a way to save on migrant costs and to get more leniency from the EU commission on fiscal targets. Its solution is to cut development aid.

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