EU and African leaders to jointly tackle the migration crisis across the Mediterranean

Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, fourth left, Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, third left, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, in the center, Federica Mogherini, fourth right and Michael Roth, German Minister of State for Europe, second right. Date: 13/07/2017. Location: Paris © European Union , 2017. Photo: Silvère Gérard

It was last week when the leaders of Italy, France, Germany and Spain met in Paris with the African leaders of Chad, Niger and Libya to discuss on how to manage the influx of migrants through Libya and across the Mediterranean. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, hosted the summit and mentioned that refugee crisis is an issue that concerns everyone and must be dealt respectively.

However, the Italian Prime Minister said that the biggest EU countries had not yet contributed enough to slow down the number of refugees coming from northern Africa. Paolo Gentiloni welcomed the commitment of the French president for a joint strategy but said that it must be followed by actions as well.

Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the European Commission, also participated in the summit mentioning that common strategy in tackling the migration crisis has begun showing results and this meeting is going to add on this endeavor. The latter is proven by the fact that no reports of migrant deaths have been reported in the Mediterranean since August 9 according to the UN Migration Agency IOM.

Macron and his migration policy

The French president has decided to take the lead by organizing a meeting between EU and African leaders in order to manage refugee crisis and promote a migration policy that would make him more popular in France and the European Union. Emmanuel Macron had stated last month that he will open refugee camps in migrant hotspots in Africa in order to allocate refugees before crossing the Mediterranean but it was rejected by the French government. The French president mentioned this solution again during the summit but instead the leaders asked for extra EU support.

Overall, it was agreed to provide assistance to Chad and Niger control their borders, support development in countries of origin of migrants and work towards stability in Libya. Futhermore, the leaders agreed with Emmanuel Macron’s plans to close the Mediterranean route to migrants and keep them in Africa. All leaders made it clear during the summit that migrants who are leaving Africa will most likely not receive asylum in Europe.

Italy asks for more EU aid

The Italian Prime minister mentioned that the EU has just started providing help to his country in order to face the long-lasting issue of migration crisis. By implementing a common strategy, the flows of migrants can be controlled. More specifically, Paolo Gentiloni stated:  “The message that comes from today’s meeting, for which I thank Emmanuel Macron and all those present, is that by joining forces and having a strategy, we can achieve results. I have to say that in the last few weeks, in the last few months, we have also achieved results on the Central Mediterranean route, but they have been the first and they need to be consolidated. This commitment must come from Europe because it can’t be the commitment of just one country or some countries. It must be a European commitment.”

EU invests in Africa

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief and Vice-President of the EC, mentioned that the EU has already been investing in Africa 20 billion euros per year and therefore there is no need for another plan. More in detail, Federica Mogherini said: “Our friends in Africa have long been telling us that ‘the issue is poverty’. The European Union and its Member States together spend €20 billion per year in Africa in various areas – from development cooperation to private investment, from humanitarian aid to work on peace and security. We do not, therefore, need to come up with a new Marshall Plan – we already have a European plan in place, which is up and running and which can certainly be used even more effectively by all Europeans and Africans.

What is more, the High Representative of the European Union stated that we start seeing the outcomes of our policies but share responsibility within the EU borders and commitment by all EU citizens is required in order to manage and control migration flows across the Mediterranean.

Migration figures indeed slow down

The International Organisation for Migrants reported that the total amount of migrants to have died in the Mediterranean Sea remained at 2.410 for 20 days during August. Only 19 fatalities have been recorded in August which is a large drop compared to the 689 deaths in August 2015 and 62 in 2016. In addition, 121.517 refugees entered the EU by sea in 2017 so far whereas 272.612 had arrived from January till 27 August 2016.

All in all, it seems that the recent mobilization of the EU leaders together with the Commission Action Plan introduced last July is showing results as far as the management of the refugees across the Mediterranean is concerned.  Of course, more should be done and the EU-Africa summit at the end of November is a good opportunity to follow up on the commitments of this meeting while looking also for new ways of strategic partnership.

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Comments

  1. Pearl Colyer says:

    Macron and Mekrel’s attempts to tackle the crisis are a joke. Germany and France with their liberalism are bringing the downfall of the EU. Know how they deal migrant crisis in Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia? They just give no even a damn about all those ultimatums coming from Germany, France and the UN. So the European migration crisis policy is currently limited to Macron and Merkel holding endless number of useless summits…

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