2nd Dec 2021

Revealed: EU migration plans for Morocco, Libya and others

  • A Libyan Coast Guard patrol boat. The Czechs are providing support amid plans for further financing from the Visegrad 4 EU member states (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)
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The European Commission is working on plans to strengthen relations with so-called "partner countries", as part of its pact on migration and asylum.

Leaked commission documents dated earlier this month outline draft proposals on Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia - all available for download below.

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The document on Afghanistan offers immediate and short-term plans, including sending a possible Frontex EU-border guard agent to neighbouring Pakistan to deal with the war-torn country.

"Frontex does not currently implement border-related activities in Afghanistan," it says, noting negotiations on a working arrangement with the country are not foreseen.

Talks are also underway to allocate around €1bn for Afghanistan under the new €79.5bn EU purse known as the Neighbourhood and Development Cooperation Instrument.

But it also says that "work to take this forward through the country's multi-annual indicative programme 2021-2027 are now on hold."

Another €79m is also in the pipeline for 2022 to deal with the "regional dimension of Afghan displacement", notes the document.

On Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU is planning to discuss its migration policy and enlargement prospects in November and December, with possible funding measures on top.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina is called upon to adopt sectoral countrywide strategies whose implementation may receive EU financial support," it notes.

On Libya, it says it wants to build a rights-based migration and asylum system.

The country has already been given some €455m in EU funds. Over half has gone to the protection of migrants and third to "community stabilisation" and border management, it says.

Now it wants to provide Libya "with a flexible source of funding to respond to changing needs and routes."

This includes muscling up the AU-EU-UN Taskforce, set up to rescue stranded migrants and refugees in Libya, before the end of the year.

It also wants to hold a migration dialogue with Libya after the mid-December presidential elections.

On Morocco, it wants Rabat to strengthen border controls, search and rescue operations, and dismantle smuggling networks.

Plans are also underway for "structured cooperation" with the Frontex and Moroccan authorities. A working arrangement with the EU's police agency, Europol, is also envisaged.

As for money, the commission says a draft budget for 2021-27 is being prepared and is likely to focus on root causes of migration among other things. It also notes Morocco will be able to draw on another fund, set up for other neighbouring countries, to curb migration.

On Tunisia, it notes some €30m of EU funds has gone to shoring up its coast guard. "A €10m top-up is being finalised," it notes.

The objective, it says, is to ensure Tunisian migration strategy and asylum law are finalised and approved.

"Frontex does not currently implement border-related activities in Tunisia and Tunisian authorities are reluctant to cooperate with it," it states.

Internal EU highlights

They also spell out bilateral initiatives among EU states.

Among the highlights:

On Tunisia, Austria, Belgium and Germany want better cooperation when it comes to sending unwanted Tunisians back home.

"[Austria] is generally not satisfied by the cooperation with Tunisia, due to issues related to identification," says Austria.

On Libya, the Czech Republic is providing support to the Libyan Coast Guard but does not go into detail.

But along with the Visegrad 4 countries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic), they are now planning more financial support on Libyan border management.

Italy says it will deliver two "second-hand" rubber boats to the Libyan Coast Guard and port security, while Malta is mulling options on providing expertise on reception facilities.

"A technical team has already visited Tripoli to assess the vessels available to the Libyan coastguard," says Malta.

In Morocco, Germany is training authorities on document fraud-detection and air security.

Spain is carrying out "infrastructure reforms" on its north Moroccan enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, including surveillance.

Madrid is also boosting the exchange of information and police collaboration with Morocco to fight migrant smuggling, it says.

On Afghanistan, Bulgaria helped train police from Iraq and Afghanistan with an aim to dismantle migrant smuggling.

Denmark provided finance for return and reintegration programmes. Estonia has suspended all bilateral projects in Afghanistan, given the current crisis.

Italy carried out a €900,000 project to help Afghan refugees in Iran.

Slovenia says it currently has two Afghans on scholarships, studying civil engineering.

It also deployed one police officer to Afghanistan for six months to train and educate local police, it says.

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The EU wants to create safe passage routes out of Afghanistan towards Pakistan and other central Asian states in order to evacuate Afghan women's rights activists and others with similar profiles.

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Spanish centre-left MEP Juan Lopez Aguilar chairs the European Parliament's civil liberties committee and is the lead on the crisis regulation, a bill presented by the EU commission last September as part of its migration and asylum pact.

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Jonas Grimheden is the EU's border agency Frontex fundamental rights officer. Almost seven months into his job he says the agency "could be seen as being implicated or supportive of fundamental rights violations". His recommendations have yet to be implemented.

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