At the meeting, heads of state and government agreed on a transit state solution. In the future, asylum applications will already be examined in countries such as Niger or Chad.
A boat with 129 refugees on board floats off the Libyan coast Photo: dpa
The EU wants claims for asylum or a refugee status in the future already in African states such as Niger or Chad examined. This was decided at a meeting in Paris on Monday, according to French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a willingness to accept African migrants as part of quotas if illegal migration is stopped. The UN refugee agency UNHCR is already making selections in refugee camps in Jordan, for example. She described it as a success that in recent weeks far fewer people had already drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.
The meeting was attended by the four EU states of Germany, France, Italy and Spain, the heads of government of Niger, Chad and Libya, as well as EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini. Broad cooperation was agreed upon, Merkel said.
Macron had suggested weeks ago that an assessment should be carried out in African states rather than on arrival in Europe. "The examination will be carried out on the basis of UNHCR standards," Macron now said. Gentiloni and the President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, confirmed the agreement. The decisions in transit countries such as Niger are intended to prevent people from making the dangerous journey through Libya and the Mediterranean, Macron said. Those who have no prospect of asylum will be returned to their countries of origin. Most of them are economic migrants with no chance of being recognized as asylum seekers or refugees in the EU.
Number of deaths fell to 23 in August
Niger’s President Issoufou said his government welcomes the fact that the selection procedures are already being made in transit countries. "I think that’s very good. We will push that in Niger." He, like Chad’s President Idriss Deby, stressed the importance of protecting their countries’ southern borders in the fight against illegal migration and also terrorism. Merkel said Germany had already supplied Niger with the requested equipment for the security authorities in the country.
The chancellor welcomed the fact that the Libyan coast guard was taking action against traffickers with the help of the EU. She said that this had already led to the fact that in June, 23,500 refugees had still arrived in Italy from Libya and that 530 people had also drowned in the Mediterranean in that month. In July, however, the number of new arrivals in Italy had already fallen to 11,500 people, and 210 people had still died in the Mediterranean. In August, he said, 3082 migrants had arrived in Italy by Aug. 23, and the number of deaths had dropped to 23. "We have a humanitarian responsibility to sort out the routes," Merkel said.
UNHCR wants EU to take in more refugees
At the same time, she said African states must be offered economic aid and also legal migration. "I can very well imagine that we agree on quotas with African countries, according to which a certain number of people can study and work here," Merkel told the taz in an interview. But a precondition must be that illegal migration is stopped, Merkel said in Paris. "Otherwise we would be sending the wrong signals."
The chancellor said the term "hotspot" used by Macron a few weeks ago for reception camps in transit countries, for example, was misleading. She said the selection of people is about the same procedure that is already used in the migration agreement between the EU and Turkey. So far, the EU takes in 20,000 people a year. The UNHCR had asked the EU to increase this number and also to accept people from Africa.