Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

Tusk says 'alarming' numbers of migrants in Libya

  • Tusk warned MEPs that the EU-Turkey deal raise ethical and legal doubts (Photo: European Parliament)

An “alarming” number of migrants have reached Libya to make their way to Italy, European Council president Donald Tusk warned on Wednesday (13 April).

“The numbers of would-be migrants in Libya are alarming,” he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said the EU must stand ready to help Italy and Malta, adding that it acted “much too late” on the Western Balkan route via Turkey and Greece.

He warned against repeating the same errors in the Mediterranean, but said a new EU border guard force would not be ready before the end of the year.

Concern is growing that migrants would divert to Italy after EU the closed the Western Balkan corridor.

Tusk spoke one day after Austria announced tighter checks on its Italian border to prepare for a potential surge in people.

According to UN figures, around 12,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy since the beginning of March. The figure is a sharp increase on February (3,800).

Tusk said that the deal between the EU and Turkey to reduce the numbers of migrants to Greece “is not perfect.”

“We are fully aware of its risks and weaknesses … everything depends on how it will be implemented,” he told the MEPs.

“The deal with Turkey and closing the Western Balkans route raise doubts of an ethical nature, and also legal, as in the case of Turkey. I share some of these doubts, too,” he said.

Human rights groups have said the pact could result in mass returns of asylum seekers who would not receive adequate protection in Turkey.

Tusk and Merkel

The deal was concluded at a summit on 7 March when German chancellor Angela Merkel put forward a surprise proposal, bypassing Tusk.

The former Polish PM sympathises with EU states that want to secure external borders more than with Merkel’s “welcome” to refugees.

Tusk on Wednesday said that relocation of refugees from Greece “is not the main tool of our policy”, referring to another Merkel project.

“We would make a nake if it became the main tool of our policy, because it would be a simple incentive for further, even greater migration flows,” he said.

Tusk predicted that the European Border and Coast Guard force will face delays.

The European Commission’s controversial proposal says the force can be posted to EU external frontiers in emergencies even if the host state does not want it.

Peak season

The Dutch presidency of the EU hopes to wrap up legislation on the project quickly so that it can be operational by summer - a peak season for migrant arrivals.

Tusk said he supports it, but added: “This body will not be operational in time for this year, as this is not possible.”

He warned that if the EU loses control of its external borders it could cause “political catastrophes.”

He said the security implications of unchecked migration could cause “chaos in the EU … and the triumph of populism and extremism.”

EU-Turkey deal gets reality check

The EU-Turkey deal that came into force on Sunday has not deterred migrants crossing the Aegean sea on its first day. But it raises many questions as Greek and Turkish legal frameworks still need to be set up.

Germany: Refugee crisis is like euro crisis

The migration crisis is like the euro crisis because the solution is for member states to cede more power to the EU, Germany’s defence minister has said.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Magazine

The asylum files: deadlock and dead-ends

The EU is reforming a number of internal asylum laws, but lack of staff, politics, and the sheer complexity of the bills means deadlines - like those announced by EU council chief Tusk - are likely to come and go.

News in Brief

  1. Belgium lowers terror alert level
  2. France, Spain set to gain seats in post-Brexit EU parliament
  3. Orban family probed over 'fraudulent' EU projects
  4. Spanish judge rejects Puigdemont arrest warrant
  5. Austria plans to sue Commission over Hungary's nuclear plant
  6. Puigdemont proposed as sole candidate for Catalan leadership
  7. Abbas in Brussels to discuss Palestinian state recognition
  8. Exiled Catalan leader leaves Belgium for first time

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. EU stands by Palestine on Jerusalem
  2. MEPs may bar killer robots and drones from EU research cash
  3. Europe's social democrats are having a hard time
  4. How Oettinger's CO2 permit sale could fill Brexit blackhole
  5. New Polish foreign minister tries to charm EU commission
  6. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on agenda This WEEK
  7. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  8. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems