By Gabriel Harrison.
Tunis, 28 August 2017:
The EU should be prepared to pay Libya €6 billion, twice as much as it paid Turkey, to stop the flow of migrants, the president of the European parliament said today.
Antonio Tajani’s suggestion came as Presidency Council (PC) head Faiez Serraj joined EU and African leaders in Paris today for a mini-summit on ways to control the migrant crisis.
Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger were in the French capital for talks with France’s President Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy and the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
In the event, the EU leaders did not take up Tajani’s proposal. Instead they said after their meeting that they had agreed they would grant asylum to “particularly vulnerable migrants” who applied while they were still in Niger and Chad. They would support UN and other migration agencies to process applications in these and other African countries.
Chad and Niger are the main crossing points for migrants into Libya.
The idea of application centres in the two countries was first proposed by Macron just after his meeting in Paris with Serraj and Khalifa Hafter a month ago. At the time he also suggested they be in southern Libya as well, but this has been roundly rejected by all Libyan key players. At today’s Paris mini-summit Serraj – insisting that Libya is as much a victim of the migration as the Europeans – said that there was no way that illegal migrants would be allowed to gather and be settled in Libya.
There is considerable doubt as to the value of asylum application centres having any impact on numbers of migrants attempting to cross to Europe. The vast majority are economic migrants not people fleeing war, such as in Syria. Figures from Italy show that in the first seven months of this year, the largest group were from Nigeria followed by Bangladesh, Guinea and the Ivory Coast.
Tajani had suggested that Europe should follow up the allocation of funds to Libya with a long-term EU investment strategy for other African countries including Chad and Niger. Last month the EU offered €10 million to Niger to help stop the flow of migrants.