Europe provides financial support to African countries while Turkey denies to change terrorism laws jeopardising the EU deal

Visit of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, and several Members of the College of the EC to Strasbourg. Franz Timmermans, on the left and Federica Mogherini Date: 07/06/2016. Location: Strasbourg - EP. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service. © European Union, 2016. Photo: Jean-François Badias

Visit of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, and several Members of the College of the EC to Strasbourg.
Franz Timmermans, on the left and Federica Mogherini
Date: 07/06/2016. Location: Strasbourg – EP. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service. © European Union, 2016. Photo: Jean-François Badias

The European Commission  convened yesterday in Strasbourg and announced its plans to create a Partnership Framework with third countries and particularly Africa in order to manage migration more effectively. This attempt comes after the EU-Turkey deal which aims at reducing the influx of immigrants coming to Europe via the Aegean Sea.

It seems that the migrants have been discouraged to travel to Europe irregularly through the Aegean Sea and are now choosing the Mediterranean corridor. The numbers show exactly that and the EU officials have realized it. Thus, the priorities for the new result-oriented plans consist of the rescue of human lives at sea, the creation of the necessary environment for the refugees to stay closer to their homeland and eventually succeed in tackling the root causes of irregular migration.

However, this project is not something new since the action plan had been set in Valletta Summit last November between the EU and African countries. The EU is now running to implement the 16 priorities, which were set in Valletta, by the end of 2016 as it was initially agreed between both parties.

EU against migration waves through Mediterranean

The executive body of the European Union (EU) has designed a path which is meant to better manage migration crisis with third countries. More specifically, Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the EC, mentioned on this issue: “The Commission proposes a new partnership framework: starting with a first group of priority third countries, compacts tailored to the circumstances of each of them will mobilise all our policies and tools to achieve these objectives, tapping into the EU’s collective influence in close coordination with Member States and focusing our resources including through the swift deployment of €8 billion over the next five years”.

The EU will start providing financial aid to Jordan and Lebanon with Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Libya to follow in the long-run. The Trust for Africa will be reinforced with 1 billion euros (500 million euros from the European Development Fund Reserve and 500 million euros from Member States) helping at the stability in the regions and promote security, development and economic opportunities.

The EC also intends to propose a new Fund in order to generate more investments in the third countries. It is considered to mobilise 3,1 billion euros till 2020 which are expected to generate investments of up to 31 billion euros with the potential to reach up to 62 billion euros if Member States and other partners join the EU contribution.

However, these figures sound quite ambitious since the growth of the European economy is still sluggish and does not seem to recover in the near future despite the desperate efforts of the European Central Bank.

Migration flows’ increase

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), it seems that this year is going to bring more refugees’ deaths in the Mediterranean compared to 2015. Already 204,400 migrants have entered Europe by sea in 2016 with 2,809 deaths to have been reported; 1,000 more compared to the first semester of 2015.

The recent EU-Turkey agreement has reduced the number of migrants travelling to Europe via the Aegean but the Mediterranean Sea has become their alternative preferable route. Migrants are well-aware now that the Balkan corridor is closed and that if they are caught travelling illegally to Greece through the Aegean they are going to be turned back to Turkey.

Turkey jeopardises migrant deal with the EU

The denial of Turkey to change its counter-terrorism laws is causing serious issues to the agreement with Europe regarding the migration flows. At the moment, Turkey has been threatening to stop receiving immigrants from Greece if the EU is not going to deliver its visa promises. It is clear that Turkey is pressing the EU in order to take more benefits without first meeting the five prerequisites needed to provide the Turkish citizens with the free visa travel.

Europe risks to be hit hard if Turkey decides to step back from the migration deal. It will deteriorate the situation in the Aegean transforming Greece into a huge refugee camp. But Europe and its officials do not have the luxury to deal with such migration problems at the moment because the UK’s referendum is taking place in two weeks and is capable of putting the entire European edifice at serious risk.

All in all, the actions of the European Commission, even if they were mostly anticipated after the Valletta Summit, are about to mobilise a significant amount of financial aid to be distributed to African countries which is meant to manage migration in the Mediterranean Sea in a more efficient manner. However, the EU should not forget to put similar effort to the EU-Turkey agreement in order to keep refugee flows stable in the Aegean sea.

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