Friday

25th Sep 2020

No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission

  • Three hundred thousand people waiting in Libya to cross to Europe (Photo: EEAS)

The European Commission has come out against ideas to replicate the EU-Turkey migrant deal with Libya.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told MEPs in the civil liberties committee on Tuesday (24 January) that the north African state is too unstable.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • Avramopoulos: "We cannot duplicate the EU-Turkey statement" (Photo: European Union)

"Let me tell you that we cannot duplicate the EU-Turkey statement, the situation is not similar in Libya," he said.

The proposal was floated by Malta's prime minister Joseph Muscat earlier this month.

The Maltese EU presidency, which is chairing member states’ talks on migration policy for the next six months, also said it would look into the possibility.

The EU last March agreed with Turkey to halt migrants from moving to the EU in return for billions in humanitarian aid and political perks, such as visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish nationals.

The deal led migrants to turn to the Libya-Italy sea corridor in greater numbers.

But EU efforts to work with the UN-recognised government in Tripoli, the GNA, have fallen foul of the difficult security situation in the country, where local warlords, militias, and tribal groups continue to undermine the GNA’s authority.

Avramopoulos said the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, had tried, without much success, to establish contact with the Libyan authorities.

"We are far away from saying that we have managed to have a real discussion with them," he said.

He said some 300,000 people are waiting for the right time to cross the Mediterranean sea to reach Italy.

"The country is still open as a corridor to all the ones who exploit the desperate people and right now, according to reports, more than 300,000 people are on the shores of Libya," he said.

Road to Europe

The EU commission is instead putting emphasis on the so-called partnership frameworks with Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia as part of a broader effort to address root causes of irregular migration flows towards Europe.

Results remain mixed following last summer's launch, said Avramopoulos.

The commissioner said Niger is cooperating well in terms of fighting smugglers and "preventing trans-migration" - migrant crossings of internal African borders on the transit route to Europe.

Nigeria is also cooperating on returns of rejected migrants and negotiating a readmission agreement with the EU.

Ethiopia, Mali, and Senegal are posing problems, however.

Avramopoulos described cooperation with all three states as being ”limited and somehow unpredictable” in nature.

He said that Senegal had started working with Italy on returns, but suddenly ”cancelled all the agreed ... missions."

Mali has refused to carry out such missions. It has also declined to sign a return agreement.

Laissez-passer

Last December, it rejected and returned two people dispatched by France. Bamako says it will not accept people assumed to have come from the country without proof.

French authorities had resorted to European travel permits or "laissez-passer" laws to return the two rejected asylum seekers.

Use of such permits triggered resentment by African states when the EU put forward the idea at the Valletta migrant summit in 2015.

"Ethiopia is progressing, but very slowly," said Avramopoulos without offering more detail.

This article was updated at 11.59 on 25 January 2017. It had incorrectly stated that Mali accepted two people dispatched by France, when in fact, it returned them to France.

EU mulls Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya

The Maltese EU presidency said a "similar approach" to the Turkey deal could stop migrants coming from Libya, but the UN said the plan was a non-starter.

Malta raises alarm on Russia in Libya

A Russian-backed warlord could start a “civil war” in Libya, increasing refugee flows to Europe, Malta, the new EU presidency, has said.

EU unveils €200m Libya migrant project

The EU commission has earmarked €200 million to enhance surveillance and better train the Libyan coastguard to stop migrants coming to Europe.

Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact

Michael Spindelegger, the former minister of foreign affairs of Austria and current director of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), reveals some of the proposals in the European Commission's upcoming pact on migration and asylum.

EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece

Over 120 asylum seeking children and teenagers in Greece have so far been relocated to a handful of EU states in a scheme the European Commission says is a demonstration of solidarity. EU states have pledged to take in 2,000.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Berlin repeats support for EU human rights sanctions
  2. China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US
  3. Far right using pandemic to win friends in Germany
  4. Visegrad countries immediately push back on new migration pact
  5. Why no EU progress on Black Lives Matter?
  6. EU migration pact to deter asylum
  7. 'Era of EU naivety ends', MEP pledges on foreign meddling
  8. Anti-mask protesters pose challenge for EU authorities

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us