EU leaders want North African migrant deal

EU leaders say they are ready to negotiate a migrant deal with North African countries, including Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya. This comes at the end of the EU meeting held in the Austrian city of Salzburg on 19-20 September.

German chancellor Angela Merkel says the bloc should use the EU-Turkey migrant deal as a model for working with North African states. “Ultimately, we’ll need agreements and accords that are structured like the agreement between the European Union and Turkey,” she said to German media Deutsche Welle.

Under the 2016 EU-Turkey migration deal, migrants arriving in Greece are to be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected. Turkey will also receive several billion euros in financial aid to help with these 3.5 million refugees.

Speaking to Agence France Presse (AFP) Merkel said: “The EU must agree on a similar deal with other countries, such as North Africa, in order to get a better control over the Mediterranean migration routes.”

When the deal was signed in 2016, critics predicted that the deal could force migrants to use more dangerous routes between North Africa and Italy to get to Europe. This latest move is seen as an attempt to close that route off as well.

The EU has already begun negotiating with North African countries. In July, it secured a deal with Libya for aid, vessels and naval training in exchange for the Libyan coastguard to intercept, rescue and return migrants attempting to get to Europe. So far in 2018, Libya has intercepted, rescued and returned 10,000 migrants back to Libya.

European Council President Donald Tusk and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also held a second meeting with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Sisi in September to discuss options to curb irregular migration in the Mediterranean.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit with the Arab League in February next year to further discuss these issues.

TMP – 26/09/2018

Photo: Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference at the end of the informal meeting between 28 heads of state or government.

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