By Prarthana Mitra
On the second day of the EU28 summit at Brussels, leaders of the European Union chalked out an agreement on migration. This was after Italy demanded action on the migrant crisis. Calling for more effective control of the EU’s external borders, the European Council is determined to “prevent a return to the uncontrolled flows of 2015” by curbing “illegal migration on all existing and emerging routes.”
Nine hours of talks between the EU leaders yielded a “breakthrough” accord on Friday. The expected result is the distribution of the burden of resettling refugees more effectively and evenly among member states.
EU28 leaders have agreed on #euco conclusions incl. migration.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) June 29, 2018
“On EU territory, those who are saved, according to international law, should be taken charge of, on the basis of a shared effort, on a voluntary basis,” read the European Council’s statement. It would involve setting up “controlled” migrant processing centres to distinguish genuine asylum seekers from “irregular migrants, who will be returned.”
Here’s what happened
Pressure on Italy mounted after it refused to accept refugee boats earlier this month, but the EU has pledged its support to all frontline member states in this respect. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte spoke to CNN, saying the deal took “long negotiation, but from today Italy is no longer alone.”
The council is also likely to intensify its efforts to stop smugglers operating out of Libya, across the Central Mediterranean Route. With regard to the Eastern Mediterranean Route, to prevent new crossovers from Turkey, finalising and implementing the EU-Turkey Statement is of paramount importance.
Centres outside Europe
The accord, however, makes history by pledging to work in close cooperation with third-party countries, UNHCR and IOM, to swiftly explore the concept of regional disembarkation platforms. In this regard, the EU will be setting up migration centres outside Europe, to dismantle the human trafficking networks in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia.
The IOM also tweeted that the situation was “not a migration crisis, rather a humanitarian one,” with more than 16,000 migrants dead or missing at sea since 2014. Tackling the migration problem requires a partnership with Africa to bring about a substantial socio-economic transformation of the African continent. To that end, the EU has decided to transfer 500 million euro to the EU Trust Fund for Africa.
With @Refugees, we support a common approach and call for a predictable and responsible disembarkation mechanism.
— IOM – UN Migration (@UNmigration) June 29, 2018
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