Thursday

19th Sep 2019

EU and Africa leaders in migrant talks

  • A mini-summit in Paris on Monday will discuss migration in Africa towards Europe. (Photo: Joris-Jan van den Boom)

A mini-summit on Africa is being hosted in Paris on Monday (28 August) to stem economic migration.

Heads of state and government from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, along with the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, will meet with their counterparts from Chad, Niger, and Libya.

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 European Commission in a statement last week said that the summit will reaffirm the EU's support for Chad, Niger and Libya in their efforts to manage migratory flows.

All three states are seen as key in broader plans to crack down on migrant smuggling and toughen up security throughout the volatile and often lawless north African region.

Although some 105,000 people have made the journey so far this year along the central Mediterranean route, over 2,200 are estimated to have died in the attempt, while more and more people begin to disembark from Morocco to Spain.

Far fewer people are leaving from Libya towards Italy compared to earlier this year, amid reports of a Libyan coastguard firing warning shots at NGO rescue vessels.

Save the Children, Germany’s Sea Eye, and Doctors without Borders (MSF) recently suspended rescue operations in the Mediterranean due to reported clashes with the Libyan coastguard.

Five of the eight NGOs operating at sea refused to sign a controversial Italian-led code of conduct, which restricts their operations.

The Italian news agency Ansa reports the code is set to be signed by the leaders at the Paris summit.

Monday's mini-summit is also likely to discuss Libya's porous border with its southern neighbouring countries, given that the UN-recognised unity government, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, has little control over large swathes of the oil-rich country.

Germany and Italy in May had called for tighter border controls, along with greater "technical and financial support" to Libyan authorities, with French president Emmanuel Macron later proposing to set up migrant processing centres in Libya.

Macron's proposal was dismissed. Instead, both the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are stepping up voluntary returns of people caught up in Libya's notorious migrant detention centres.

IOM's chief, Lacy Swing, had earlier said the plan is to turn the detention centres into open reception centres where "people can come and go". The conditions at the centres, many of which are run by militia groups, have been described as death traps.

The EU had also announced a €200 million package to finance projects around north Africa, geared towards migration in Libya.

The EU commission says around €90 million will go to stepping up the protection of migrants and reinforcing migration management in Libya.

More resources are also being poured into surveillance and cooperation with the Libyan coastguard, as part of a so-called Seahorse Mediterranean Network.

The mini-summit comes ahead of the EU's fifth Africa summit in November. The November summit aims to focus on youth, security, and economic development.

"Europe's security and prosperity depends heavily on what is happening in Africa and with our relations with that continent," an EU official told reporters earlier this year.

But while greater focus shifts towards Africa, reports are emerging that Turkey is allowing more and more people to depart towards Greece.

Greek media outlet Kahtimerini, in an article on Sunday, cites unnamed Greek government sources that say Turkey is deliberately allowing more people to disembark from its coast, despite an EU deal to stem the flow.

The source told the paper that the increase in arrivals on the Greek islands is being used as leverage by Turkey on the European Union, in regard to stalled EU membership talks.

NGOs divided by Italy's new rescue code

Five charities have refused to sign up to Italy's EU-backed code of conduct for NGOs that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean sea, saying the new rules put lives at risk.

Macron wants asylum claims to start in Africa

The French president hosted a mini-summit with leaders from Chad, Libya and Niger, along with Germany, Italy and Spain. Among the proposals is a plan to set up safe zones in Niger and Chad to initiate asylum claims.

Feature

Syrians find troubled homes in Egypt

Despite EU aid, Syrian families are finding it difficult to integrate into Egyptian society, with reports now emerging that some Syrian girls are subjected to genital mutilation.

Opinion

EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit

The EU is throwing a lot of money at Sudan to manage migration from the Horn of Africa to Europe - but the upcoming Africa Union-EU summit is a chance to probe Sudan about its own human rights record.

France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

French president Emmanuel Macron is pressing for an automated distribution of rescued migrants at sea - but also stands accused of tightening asylum rules in his own country as a response to the far-right.

'Migration' is now 'protecting European way of life'

The upcoming European Commission has shuffled migration policy into a euphemistic new "Protecting our European Way of Life" European commissioner portfolio, headed by former spokesman Margartis Schinas. Some MEPs are not happy.

News in Brief

  1. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  2. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  3. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  4. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan
  5. Minsk talks bode ill for EU's peace summit on Ukraine
  6. Poll: Poland's nationalist rulers to win October election
  7. Irish lawyers clash with EU commission in Apple case
  8. NGOs take aim at EU smartphone pollution

Opinion

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  2. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  3. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  4. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  5. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  6. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  7. A new Commission for the one percent
  8. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us