Saturday

3rd Dec 2022

EU explores new migration 'zone' in north Africa

  • Over 3,500 people died trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean last year (Photo: DukeUnivLibraries)

The EU’s migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, is to visit Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco amid an Italian-led plan to set up migrant reception centres.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Thursday (12 March) after a meeting of the bloc’s 28 interior ministers, Avramopoulos said “I intend to visit Tunisia and Egypt, of course Morocco is included in my agenda, in order to create a zone in the area” to fight smuggling and irregular migration.

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

His tour coincides with an Italian-led drive for the EU to create refugee reception centres in northern Africa and, possibly, in Sudan and Niger.

"It's about a humanitarian mission which would allow Europe to do screening and to dismantle a huge human trafficking market," said Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano.

The AP news agency reportsthat interior ministers from France, Germany, and Austria are keen on the idea and that Avramopoulos will also visit Vienna to flesh out details.

Italy is pressing the issue amid ever greater numbers of Mediterranean migrant crossings.

Around 220,000 people attempted the dangerous route last year, with most setting sail from war-torn Libya.

Avramopoulos earlier this month also proposed setting up special immigration attaches in EU delegations to handle asylum requests in the country of origin.

But when asked to elaborate on Thursday, he described the idea as “a long term project” and said there is no decision yet.

“It is something that we are working on right now, to see whether it is feasible and to see whether it is workable and whether it can prove itself efficient. Yes, the idea was launched, the decision was not made,” he said.

Migratory pressure has also increased in the Western Balkans, with calls for more resources to be given to the EU’s border agency Frontex.

The six Western Balkan countries registered 108,583 asylum applications last year, representing a 45 percent increase compared to 2013.

Latvia’s interior minister Rihards Kozlovskis, speaking on the behalf of the EU presidency, said the border agency needs more money and more staff.

EU to 'capture and destroy' migrant traffickers' boats

EU leaders are to ask foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to look into setting up a defence mission that would "identify, capture and destroy vessels" potentially used by human traffickers.

Opinion

Facing the EU's migrant crisis

It is time for the European Union to take on the responsibility for solving the migration challenges it faces.

EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary

Prime minister Viktor Orbán's government has to implement 27 measures "fully and correctly" before any payment from the €5.8bn recovery fund can be made, or the suspended €7.5bn of cohesion funds can be unblocked.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us