EU, African leaders sign refugee crisis plan at Malta summit

Two-day summit held at Malta focused on how to send those who don't qualify for asylum back to Africa, to also discourage others from attempting to move to Europe for better life

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

(L-R) Senegal's President Macky Sall, European Council President Donald Tusk and Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat end a joint news conference at the end of the Valletta Summit on Migration in Valletta.

Updated Nov 13, 2015

European Union leaders decided on Thursday to fund African states with $2 billion as a solution to poverty and internal conflicts, in order to stop migration from Africa to Europe. However, African leaders stated that this amount is not enough and more support is needed.

A trust fund was decided on at the Malta summit. 1.8 billion euros ($1.93 billion) of this fund will be financed by the European Commission's central budget. The Commission wants all EU member states to contribute to it since only few have done it so far.

This new amount will be used to finance several fields like training, investment grants and fighting food scarcity with the purpose of minimising refugee flows and preventing any kind of violence and violence causing mechanism in these regions.

Large number of Syrian refugee flows have caused a massive crisis in Europe, and still is an important issue for the continent today. Memories of sunken boats of the African refugees in the Mediterranean Sea in April 2015 compelled European leaders to organise the summit. However, European experts added that African migration will be a greater issue in the future as well.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the summit was only a start, "We have a great deal of work ahead of us," she said.

Among the biggest concerns in both Europe and Africa is climate change -turning vast areas around the Sahara into desert- which may set large segments of Africa's fast-growing billion-plus population on the move, both within the continent and north across the Mediterranean. 

"The trust fund is not enough, 1.8 billion euros is far from enough," said Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger in the Sahel, which faces serious problems with migration and drought.

"What we want is not just official development assistance in this form but reform of global governance. World trade must be fair. There must be more investment in Africa. Official development assistance is good but it's not sufficient," he added.

Senegalese President Macky Sall accused multinational firms of tax avoidance and scheming at corrupt transfers of Africa's resources, costing nations commonly what they receive in help. 

European Council President Donald Tusk warned that the bloc's Schengen open borders accord was on the brink of collapse as a result of the fallout from the migration crisis.

"Saving Schengen is a race against time and we are determined to win that race. Without effective control of our external borders, Schengen will not survive, we must hurry, but without panic” Tusk said.

His remarks came after moves by Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and Sweden to reintroduce fringe controls or erect walls at borders to control transient sections to their region.

Agreement Points from Action Plan

European Union and African leaders agreed on these main points of the action plan over migration at Malta summit:

- At the first step, EU will provide 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to finance projects to reduce waves of migration to Europe and internal displacement in Africa.

- More cooperation on preventing and fighting illegal migration and human trafficking, and establishing an investigative team in Niger as an initial project.

- Speeding up the process of sending unsuccessful asylum seekers back to their countries. Ten African countries agreed to support Europe in identifying illegal migrants.

- New opportunities for legal migrants in Europe, scholarships for students and academicians.

- Financing and supporting projects which will help in preventing migration flows like development packets, job opportunities and investigating in causes of migration in areas of high number of migration.

- New projects for internally displaced people in the Horn of Africa and Northern Africa in economic development and preventing poverty by the end of 2016.


TRTWorld and agencies