Europe reveals its plan to deal with the migration crisis – INCREASE the limits for legal immigration from Africa
- Five African states will be targeted with new illegal immigration measures
- One option is offering easier visa access to the EU for skilled workers
- Another is offering preferential trade terms to incentivise governments
Europe’s plans to deal with the migration crisis include increasing the limits for legal immigration from Africa with easier visa access for certain countries.
Five African states – Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Ethiopia – will be targeted to curtail migration and incentives may also include preferential trade terms.
The European Commission today proposed a revamp of its Blue Card work permit scheme to expand legal immigration options for skilled workers and support for EU governments to give migrants training and other help to integrate in Europe.
The aim is to reduce the incentive for people to try to smuggle themselves into the continent illegally on flimsy boats and put their lives at risk.
‘If we ever want to compete with the US Green Card, we need an EU Blue Card that deserves the same merit,’ Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said.
The proposals will require detailed discussion and approval by EU governments and the parliament.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Manfred Weber, conservative leader of the biggest party in the EU legislature, welcomed a move to ‘speak clearly’ to Africa and warned of ‘trade consequences’ for states that do not cooperate.
But he cautioned on expanding the Blue Card scheme, saying the priority must be jobs for Europeans before immigrants.
One focus of EU pressure will be the reluctance of some African governments to take back their own citizens deported from Europe.
The Commission said some eight billion euros was on offer over five years for aid targeted at giving Africans more incentive to stay at home, though much of that must come from EU states and much is money already promised.
‘We propose to use a mix of positive and negative incentives to reward those third countries willing to cooperate effectively with us and to ensure that there are consequences for those who do not,’ Frans Timmermans, the deputy head of the European Commission, told the chamber.
Timmermans noted the deal he has negotiated with Turkey to staunch flows of Syrian refugees and other migrants to Greek islands – a deal achieved by offering Ankara financial and diplomatic concessions and criticised by human rights groups – and said there was a need to curb renewed crossings from North Africa to Italy, which have claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
Five African states – Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Ethiopia – will be targeted to curtail migration and incentives may include preferential trade terms and easier visa access to the EU. Pictured: A sinking migrants’ boat near Libya.
‘We must do the same that we have done on the route through the Aegean also in the southern Mediterranean to find solutions, sustainable solutions,’ the former Dutch foreign minister said.
His Commission colleague, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, dismissed a suggestion from Libya’s fragile, U.N.-backed government that Brussels might pressure Libyans to take back migrants who set sail from its coast, as Turkey now does.
Europe’s plan was to get irregular migrants from Africa who do not qualify for asylum back to their home countries, she said, noting that few Libyans themselves make the crossing.
Jordan and Lebanon in the Middle East, the main hosts along with Turkey of Syrian refugees, would be priority recipients of help under the EU’s new migration ‘compacts’, which the Commission said aimed to leverage EU funding with private investments that could reach tens of billions of euros.
MIGRANT DEATHS IN MEDITERRANEAN ‘HIT 10,000’
More than 10,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe since 2014, the UN said Tuesday, as the EU unveiled fresh plans to stem the migrant flow from Africa.
Following a rash of deadly shipwrecks in recent weeks which claimed the lives of hundreds of people, the UN refugee agency said the number of deaths at sea had risen sharply this year, with a record 2,814 people drowning since January.
And over the past few days, the overall number who have died since the start of 2014 has reached 10,085, the UNHCR said on Tuesday.
With Europe in the grip of its worst migrant crisis since World War II, the rising death toll has prompted urgent efforts to tackle the problem, with Brussels seeking ways to clamp down on the Africa route from after a deal with Ankara in March slashed numbers trying to cross from Turkey.
‘We cannot tolerate the loss of life on this scale, we need to do everything to stop it,’ European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said.
Breaking down the figures, the UN said a total of 3,771 had died at sea in 2015 and 3,500 the year earlier, plus this year’s deaths.
‘You’ve now had since the start of 2014 – when this phenomenon of rising numbers across the Mediterranean happened – 10,000 deaths,’ UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said.
‘This is clearly an appalling number of deaths that have occurred in the Mediterranean, just on Europe’s borders just in the past couple of years,’ he added.
More than one million migrants and refugees made the journey to Europe in 2015, the majority fleeing war in Syria and the Middle East, and a further 204,000 have come since January, the UNHCR says.
The vast majority have died on crossings between Libya and Italy, as a controversial March deal between the EU and Turkey designed to halt the flow of largely Syrian migrants using the popular Aegean route has led to a sharp drop in arrivals.
The EU’s top court meanwhile ruled that countries cannot imprison illegal migrants just for crossing borders in the Schengen passport-free area, in a new blow to efforts to crack down on the crisis.
The ruling came in the case of a Ghanaian woman, Selina Affum, who was jailed by French police at the Channel Tunnel while on a bus from Belgium to Britain using someone else’s passport.
The Schengen passport-free area of 26 European countries has come under severe pressure from the migration crisis, with many countries bringing back border controls that were dismantled a decade ago.