Monday

18th Mar 2019

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

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

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. Third Brexit vote this week only if DUP will support it
  2. Germany's two largest banks confirm merger talks
  3. Serbian pro-democracy protests reach 15th week
  4. 'Yellow Vest' riots leave Paris shops vandalised
  5. European woman older when having first baby
  6. Majority of Germans want Merkel to stay on
  7. Asylum applications in the EU down to 580,800 in 2018
  8. Children's climate school strikes turn global on Friday

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us