Thursday

20th Jun 2019

EU wants actions, deadlines from Valletta summit

  • Vimont (c) is leading talks on behalf of the EU (Photo: European External Action Service)

The EU’s lead negotiator at next week’s Africa summit on migration, Pierre Vimont, wants actions backed by deadlines and oversight.

Speaking in Brussels at a conference on Thursday (5 November), the former top official of the EU diplomatic service, said Valletta needs to mark a departure from previous dialogues.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“For us, Valletta is not about repeating what has been done, it is not about reinventing what already exists,” he said.

The focus, he noted, will be on setting up short, medium, and long-term goals with clear deadlines monitored to ensure implementation.

Next week’s meeting between EU and African heads of state in Malta’s capital Valletta aims to slow the exodus of people fleeing the continent to Europe.

Divergent views on the possibility of setting up reception centres in Africa, forced returns and readmissions, legal migration, and other security-related issues are likely to underpin the talks.

Valletta was announced in April by member states when the focus on the migratory flow to Europe was the Mediterranean Sea.

That flow has since shifted to the Western Balkans. But Vimont said the conference in Valletta remains essential, given the “extraordinarily complex challenges” facing Africa.

He pointed to increasing instability, due in part, to extremist groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Some young people in Africa, he said, think they have no future and are either lured to joining extremist groups or end up leaving home to seek better lives elsewhere.

He said growth in Africa does not create jobs, but, instead, increases inequalities and feeds an urbanisation which spurs social problems, crime, and instability.

“I think we have to understand that we are facing a totally different reality today. We are facing a different reality, if only because smugglers and traffickers’ networks are moving very fast,” he added.

He said Europe’s “strong, security-heavy response” to migration is a result of political realities, due in part, to the rise in populist and far-right movements.

“How do we respond to that? We can’t respond with the old messages of 20 years ago. We have to respond with new messages adapted to the reality,” the French-origin diplomat said.

Vimont dispelled notions the EU would try to impose its will on African states, noting that everything “must be done in full partnership and with the consent of everyone invited.”

He said any plans to build refugee camps in Africa, where people could apply for EU asylum instead of having first to reach the shores of Greece or Italy, would not be on the table and not in the final summit action plan.

“What we are talking about is for the EU members to think a little bit more about what they want to do with such a concept,” he explained.

The African skeptic

For his part, the African Union’s ambassador to the EU, Ajay Bramdeo, was also critical of the reception centre concept.

He said they risk being “morally regressive step.”

“If there is no clarity on how these reception centres are going to be constructed, managed, operated, who has oversight over them, how sustainable will they be, we are going to end up with open sky prisons, where human rights of those interred will be violated,” he warned.

Bramdeo noted that some root causes of migration are linked to Europe’s exploitative legacy in Africa.

He said EU member states, either individually or as a bloc, have had a negative influence on politics, societies, and economies in developing countries.

“I think we all know that in diplomacy you’ve got the side that is very transparent and open and there is also a darker side to it. Let’s not be naive about that,” he said.

EU and Africa to clash on readmissions

European and African leaders want different things from next week’s migration summit in Malta, as the EU lowers its humanitarian ambitions.

Opinion

If not Europe, who will help the refugees?

If the EU fails to respond effectively to the refugee crisis, damage to both Europe and international refugee protection will be irreparable.

Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg will next month hold a public hearing on the refusal by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to release documents concerning its border control and surveillance operation known as Triton.

EU mute on new Italian decree to fine NGO boats

In 2013, the European Commission declared ships that help migrants in distress would not face sanctions. Now - six years later - Italy's government endorses a decree to impose fines up to €50,000 for rescue boats docking in Italian ports.

Decision on migrant-returns hits parliament logjam

Home affairs ministers are set to endorse reforms for tougher EU return laws to send unwanted migrants home. But an absent lead MEP on the file and a wary EU parliament means their agreement may not amount to much.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson vs. Hunt to replace May as UK leader
  2. EU leaders take aim at Russia's role in Ukraine
  3. EUobserver appoints new interim editor-in-chief
  4. Ombudsman: Tusk's staff should record lobby meetings
  5. Tusk now 'more cautious' on top jobs decision at summit
  6. Mogherini: my replacement 'needs security experience'
  7. Irish PM: 'enormous hostility' to new Brexit extension
  8. Merkel hopes to name commission chief by early July

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Additional summit over top EU jobs looms
  2. EU advisor roasted over Russian media interview
  3. EU must counter Kushner's so-called 'peace' plan
  4. Tusk wants quick deal on EU top jobs at Thursday summit
  5. EU keeps North Macedonia and Albania at arm's length
  6. What's going on in Moldova - and what next?
  7. EU officials prepare for US extravaganza on Palestine
  8. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us