Migration tops EU summit agenda

All 28 leaders of the European Union (EU) bloc met in the Austria City of Salzburg on 19 and 20 September 2018 to discuss ways of reducing immigration to the EU.

Measures to reduce immigration have been taken since 2015, when over a million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe from the Middle East and Africa, prompting a rise in anti-immigration rhetoric across the region. Deals have since been struck with countries like Turkey and Libya, offering aid in exchange for tighter border controls. Less than 100,000 migrants have reached Europe irregularly without necessary documentation this year.

In its latest move to stop the flow of irregular migration, the EU leaders discussed a plan to increase the number of guards in the EU coast and border guard, Frontex, to 10,000. Leaders are divided on the issue, as some countries like Italy want to maintain control over its own borders.

The EU is also eyeing a deal with Egypt on migration. European Council President Donald Tusk and Austria Chancellor Sebastian Kurz met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on 16 September 2018 in Cairo, commending Egypt’s role in stemming the flow of irregular migration and human trafficking into Europe.

The EU observer cited an EU source in Brussels who said on Tuesday, 18 September 2018, that the EU is looking to deepen its relations with the country, saying “this is a partner which is taking its responsibility seriously, a partner we can work within the context of migration even more.”

However, Cairo still rejects the idea of establishing camps in its soil to host migrants, refugees and deported asylum seekers. and prevent them from crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

The Egyptian government has put in place measures to fight irregular migration and human trafficking. The ‘anti-illegal migration and human smuggling law’ and tighter border security are the main reasons behind the country’s success in fighting irregular migration.

The 2016 law stipulates a penalty of between USD 2,796 and USD 11,000 or a prison sentence for anyone convicted of smuggling. As a result, not more than 30 irregular migrants have arrived in Europe from Egypt between January and March this year. According to the United Nations (UN), there are nearly 230,000 registered refugees from 58 countries currently living in Egypt.

TMP – 21/09/2018

Photo credit: Joel Carillet, iStock Migrant boat landing on Lesbos, Greece

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