Wednesday

14th Apr 2021

EU leaders to push migration issue outside of Europe

EU leaders have endorsed on Friday (3 February) an Italian agreement signed the day before with Libya, aimed at stopping the flow of migrants into Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.

Italy already on Thursday pledged money, training and equipment to help the UN-backed Libyan government curb migration in a memorandum of understanding that Libyan prime minister Fayez al-Seraj signed in Rome with Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

The deal, reminiscent of earlier accords to stop migration between Italy and then Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, comes amid EU efforts to stem the flow of migrants on the central Mediterranean route, which has become the main point of entry to Europe, since countries closed the Western Balkan route for migrants last year.

At the summit in Malta, EU leaders also pledged more training and aid, especially to the national coast guard in the hope that they would be able to pick up migrants from the sea and take them back to Libya. Currently EU rescue missions take the saved migrants to Europe.

The EU pledged that Libya's UN-backed government will receive €200 million, including funding to reinforce the coastguard.

It also has become clear that EU leaders are moving toward shifting the migration crisis back to the country of origin and transit by providing more aid and refugee centres that are closer to the countries of origin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Valletta in her press conference that leaders have put the emphasis on partnerships with countries bordering the EU.

She said the EU aims to do deals with Jordan and Lebanon, similar to the one concluded with Turkey last year in an effort to curb migration.

EU leaders also underlined the need to involve the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR in these programs for their expertise.

She said however that the reform of the EU's asylum system, one of the most sensitive issues among EU countries now was not discussed, they will come back to it in March.

"For refugees, it will be best to stay safe close to their countries," Merkel said, saying people should not cross illegally and put their lives in the hands of smugglers.

"The EU has to tackle the root causes by creating safe havens close to the country of origin," she added.

Human rights watchdog, Oxfam International, on Friday objected that the Italian deal does not ask for human rights guarantees from the Libyan authorities.

“EU leaders in Malta say they are committed to human rights and international law, but Italy has struck a dodgy deal with Libya with no safeguards for these principles," Oxfam's deputy director Natalia Alonso, said in a statement.

"The fact that all EU governments have welcomed the Libya deal, which makes no attempt to increase Libya’s commitments to people’s rights whilst shutting off the route to Europe, shows their duplicity,” she added.

Italy and Libya cut migrant busting deal

Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni and his Libyan counterpart Fayez al-Serraj signed a deal in Rome to curb migration flows and crack down on people smuggling ahead of an EU summit in Malta.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Michel pledges to protect von der Leyen's 'dignity' in future
  2. Libya frees UN-sanctioned human trafficker
  3. European court: jailed Turkish writer's rights violated
  4. EU set to miss 1m electric charging points by 2025 target
  5. Lavrov expects Iran nuclear deal to be saved
  6. France suspends flights from Brazil due to Covid variant
  7. Johnson & Johnson delays roll-out of vaccine in EU
  8. German government agrees nationwide pandemic law

Analysis

Frontex scrutiny on rights violations is a PR stunt

Greece denies any illegal pushbacks at sea. The EU takes their version of events as face value, in a system unable and unwilling to shed doubt on Greek authorities - posing accountability questions on the EU's border guard agency Frontex.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine
  2. Future EU platform seeks to 'stay clean' of hate speech
  3. Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns
  4. MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'
  5. Will Romania be EU's Green Deal laggard?
  6. Muslims, Ramadan, and myths facing 'European civilisation'
  7. Europe & Africa - rebuilding the future
  8. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us