Monday

3rd Oct 2022

EU looks to African dictators for migration solutions

  • Smugglers and irregular migrants gravitate to a Libya in turmoil (Photo: Sebastia Giralt)

The EU is turning to African dictators to help counter a multitude of threats as it steps up efforts to tighten border controls and renew counter-terrorism initiatives.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the commission’s top man on migration and home affairs, told reporters last week following a two-day marathon meeting of EU justice and home affairs meetings in Brussels that “we are confronted with increasing pressures at our external borders and inside the European Union”.

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

Discussions included the issues surrounding the threat of foreign fighters returning to Europe after fighting for IS, getting the European parliament to sign off controversial data sharing agreements, border surveillance, and migration.

Part of the migration strategy was already hammered out in Rome at the end of November.

The Italian EU presidency had organised and launched the so-called Khartoum Process to try and prevent asylum seekers from going via countries such as Libya to get to the EU.

Around 114,000 migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees were detected in the central Mediterranean region in the first eight months of 2014. This represents a six -fold increase from 2013.

Criticized for being a pull factor by its many detractors, the end of Italy’s search and rescue operation Mare Nostrum has not stemmed the flow of people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean.

Just under 9,000 boat migrants were intercepted within the first week of Triton, the EU-led border surveillance mission that superseded Mare Nostrum on 1 November.

The broad plan now is to step up development projects and crack down on criminal networks by working with some of the countries where people are fleeing from in the first place.

This includes reinforced intelligence sharing, investigation capacities, and information campaigns.

“We have expanded our co-operation with countries outside the European Union, which are either countries of origin or transit countries,” said Avramopoulos.

The Greek commissioner called for respect of human rights when it comes to migration issues. Yet many of the countries the EU will be working with - including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan - are barely functioning states.

All were invited to Rome, along with ministers from other African nations, to discuss migration where they signed the Khartoum declaration.

Sitting at the table was Avramopoulos, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and EU interior ministers.

Mogherini’s presence is significant because it indicates that migration is of equal importance to both foreign and home affairs ministers.

Within the mix is a renewed sense of urgency amid recent reports that the Islamic State has set up training camps in eastern Libya.

“Today, instability in Libya is the main issue that one links to irregular migration, so a lot of things hang on this,” said Italy’s minister of interior Angelino Alfano.

At the same time, he described Libya as a breeding ground for a possible terrorist insurgency, which now poses an indirect threat to Europe.

According to a recent report by the EU border agency Frontex, nine out of ten departures in the Mediterranean during 2014 have so far been from Libya. The average price per head is $1,300.

It notes that around 26 percent of the total nationalities detected in 2014 are Eritreans.

Most are fleeing to evade “compulsory, oppressive, and indefinite military service” in the country, says the report.

It is unclear how exactly the European commission and EU ministers intends to work with countries like Eritrea.

But Alfano floated one possible idea.

“They can apply for asylum there in Africa and then when people are awarded asylum, then we will in Europe, offer reception facilities spread throughout the European Union,” he said.

Opinion

Defying the populist agenda?

Might a centre-right Greek politician, formerly in charge of defence policy, be able to reach a compromise among EU member states on immigration reform?

EU to scrap maternity leave bill

The European Commission is set to scrap its maternity leave proposal and announce new strategies on migration and security.

Opinion

EU has chance to help women of South Sudan

Navi Pillay, a former UN human rights chief, tells EUobserver the EU should use the upcoming African Union summit to help stop sexual violence in South Sudan.

EU adding Bahamas to tax-haven blacklist

The EU is adding Anguilla, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands to its blacklist of tax-havens, in what some have called a "fig-leaf" exercise.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  2. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  3. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  4. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  5. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  6. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  7. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  8. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us