On Thursday, EU leaders decided to invest billions of euros to strengthen cooperation from countries where people leave or traverse on their journey to Europe in order to address the bloc’s migration policy difficulties.
Without reaching an agreement on who should be responsible for migrants after they arrive, or if other EU countries should be obligated to assist, the leaders focused on how to prevent people from arriving in the first place. “Mutually advantageous alliances and co-operation with countries of origin and transit will be intensified,” they stated during their summit in Brussels.
There were no specific nations mentioned, but the focus is on northern Africa, from which many migrants embark on perilous journeys across the Mediterranean in search of a better life or refuge in Europe.
The strategy will be pragmatic, adaptable, and tailored to the countries, with all possible “instruments and incentives” used to urge them to cooperate, according to the leaders. Their summit declaration had been drafted ahead of time by envoys and received little attention on Thursday.
They urged the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, to “make the best possible use of at least 10% of the NDICI budgetary envelope, as well as money under other relevant instruments, for migration-related measures.” From 2021 to 2027, the Neighbourhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument will have a budget of €79.5 billion ($95 billion). This means that over €8 billion might be made available for migration.
The funds might be used to address the root causes of migration, assist refugees and displaced persons, build capacity to assist nations in better managing migration, combat human smuggling, and strengthen border controls.
In 2015, over a million migrants arrived in Greece and Italy, many fleeing turmoils in Syria and Iraq. Reception centres in Greece and Italy were overloaded. It generated what is arguably the EU’s most serious political crisis, with ongoing disagreements regarding accountability and solidarity. In September of last year, the EU unveiled a massive revamp of Europe’s ineffective asylum system.
Parts of the package have been adopted by EU member countries, but they have not been able to overcome the concerns at the heart of their impasse. Migrant landings have slowed to a trickle since the EU reached an agreement in 2015 to persuade Turkey to stop sending people to the Greek islands, and member countries are now attempting to emulate that model in North Africa.
Despite a dramatic decrease in undocumented migrant admissions, the leaders stated that “developments on specific routes give rise to serious worry and require continuous monitoring and urgent action.”
In the first five months of this year, 47,100 “illegal border crossings” were made into Europe. This was a 47 per cent increase over the same period the previous year when the coronavirus pandemic had drastically reduced arrival numbers.
Many of the migrants crossing the central Mediterranean, according to Frontex, were Tunisians or Bangladeshis. The majority of those arriving via the western Mediterranean route were Algerians and Moroccans. The leaders could have used their meeting, according to Raphael Shilhav of the charity Oxfam, to address creating fair and efficient asylum processes, improving the awful conditions in EU receiving centres, and ending violent pushbacks. Pushbacks are the forcible removal of migrants from a country before they may apply for asylum.