21. März 2015 · Kommentare deaktiviert für EU will Kontrolle des Mittelmeers ‚outsourcen‘ · Kategorien: Mittelmeer

The Guardian

EU considering plan to outsource Mediterranean migrant patrols to Africa

Exclusive: Under Italian proposals the EU would cut deals with countries such as Egypt and Tunisia to fund and train navies in rescue missions

The EU is considering plans to outsource its patrols of the Mediterranean to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia in order to try to reduce the high numbers of desperate illegal migrants risking their lives to reach European shores.

Under the proposals tabled confidentially by the Italian government, the EU would cut deals with North African countries to fund and train their navies in search-and-rescue missions for the tens of thousands of people being trafficked from Libya to Italy. Once rescued, the migrants would be taken to the ports of the country saving them or sent back to their countries of origin.

“This would produce a real deterrent effect, so that fewer and fewer migrants would be ready to put their life at risk to reach the European coasts,” said an Italian government document outlining the scheme and obtained by the Guardian.

The Italians said such a radical shift in trying to deal with the mass migration across the Mediterranean was necessary because of the worsening scale of the problem.

The proposals were discussed last week by EU interior ministers meeting in Brussels and also this week with the European Commission, which is to produce new policy blueprints on how to cope with migration by May.

The interior ministries have also been discussing plans to establish and finance refugee camps or “reception centres” for migrants in North Africa and the Middle East to try to keep them from coming to Europe as well as out of the hands of the traffickers, and to set up “European” asylum-processing offices outside the EU in the same region.

Diplomats and officials in Brussels stress that the ideas being discussed by governments are at the exploratory stage, that no decisions have been taken, and that governments are divided.

Britain, for example, is strongly opposed to processing asylum applications outside the EU because such a system would require an agreed EU system for dividing the refugee arrivals between the 28 countries. Austria supports such a system for precisely the opposite reason, believing that an EU burden-sharing system would cut the numbers of refugees arriving there.

The controversial moves for dealing with the refugee flow are being pushed most actively by Italy, in the frontline of the often catastrophic events in the Mediterranean. France and Germany are also supportive.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European council who chairs EU summits, confirmed in remarks to the Guardian and five other European newspapers last week that such policy initiatives were being discussed behind the scenes.

“This is an idea,” he said, when asked about reception centres being established outside the EU. “We have to have strong and responsible control in places where we want to have such camps.”

He is to travel to North Africa shortly on his first joint trip with Federica Mogherini, the EU’s chief foreign policy coordinator.

“The current situation is so serious that a radical change in the EU perspective is required,” the Italian proposal said. “We have to make all possible efforts to prevent the departure of migrants from the southern shores of the Mediterranean. One viable option is a gradual and direct involvement of reliable third countries in the maritime surveillance and search and rescue activity.”

It said contacts with the Egyptian and Tunisian authorities were being explored, but that “EU member states and relevant EU institutions and agencies have to take adequate, quick and effective actions … The objective should be to share such a heavy burden with those third countries.”

It noted that Italian patrols rescued 170,000 migrants in the Mediterranean last year and took them to Italy. In the first two months of this year, the figures had almost doubled compared to 2014.

The paper called for new “ad hoc operations” where third countries such as Egypt and Tunisia would deploy naval units to “intervene and rescue migrants in distress at sea. Afterwards, they could take them to their own ports”.

Europe would have to finance the policy and supply “technical assistance”, the paper said.

“It is clear that a joint diplomatic action towards the governments of Egypt and Tunisia by main member states and EU as a whole is crucial.”

It called on the UN refugee agency and the International Organisation for Migration to become involved in providing expertise and assistance. Both organisations said they are being consulted by EU policymakers on some of the moves being planned, although they stressed that such planning was at an early stage.

“There have been a lot of proposals but no details about what they mean,” said William Spindler, a spokesman in Geneva for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Given the situation in the Mediterranean, we need to explore all the available options. But it’s not a fully developed plan. Some countries are very reticent.”

While some EU countries are not keen to “Europeanise” migration policies, the proposals would also run into tough resistance in the European parliament.

Ska Keller, a leading German Greens MEP and spokesperson on migration issues, said of the Italian demand: “This proposal raises major concerns. The underlying motive is to ensure that the EU can wash its hands of the problem by ensuring that rescued refugees are dealt with by countries like Egypt and Tunisia and that they never become the responsibility of an EU jurisdiction. Paying North African countries to deal with the issue is yet another cynical proposal.”

Kommentare geschlossen.