Sunday

22nd Jul 2018

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join 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.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us