In a new strategy disclosed this month, the EU council have pledged to strip aid and trade programmes from developing nations who are incapable of accepting deported migrants in their tens of thousands.
The European Commission has threatened African countries with “negative incentives” if they do not “co-operate” in their efforts to halt migration flows, suggesting that foreign aid directed towards trade, education, climate change and agriculture sectors will be hit. The plans also stipulated that African nations who help to prevent the spill over of migrants into the Mediterranean and wider Europe will be “rewarded”. The strategy will spend up to €62billion to develop co-operating African economies.
“Those countries who work with us will get certain treatment,” an EU official said. “Those who don’t want to or are incapable will get different treatment and that will be translated via our development, trade policies.”
The strategy mirrors a “dirty deal” made between the EU and Turkey, which has offered Ankarra financial aid and visa free travel to the border control-free Schengen zone in exchange for taking in deported migrants and firming up its border control. Although the EU have hailed the deal as a success, the scheme has left thousands stranded in Greece in inhumane conditions. Hundreds of lone children have been contained in detention facilities and many have been made to sleep in police cells. Furthermore, it is likely that Turkey will simply become another gateway for migration flows.
Earlier last month, the Financial Times reported that the EU had begun talks with Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country, to receive EU deported migrants who have traveled to the continent. Nigeria currently has a population of 180million, which is expected to swell to a staggering 300million by 2030. Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal bloc at the Brussels centre confirmed that similar deals with Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon and soon to be recruited Sub-Saharan nations are simply a “copy-paste” of the Ankarra agreement. However, the fundraising for the Turkey deal has so far fallen €0.4bn short of the €2bn required as 12 out of 28 member states have declined to volunteer their funds.
Yesterday, the incentive scheme sparked severe criticism from Human Rights groups and NGO’s, 104 of which signed a joint statement condemning the new EU strategy. The statement emphasised that:
“Aid is for the benefit of people in need, and should not be used as a leverage for migration control. EU funding should be transparent and adhere to clearly established principles.”
To award foreign aid and trade agreements on the basis of whether nations will accept deported migrants rather than on their need or eligibility for development is a gross contradiction of European policy and development funds. Poor countries who are unable and unequipped to accept migrants may be denied desperately needed aid for education, agriculture and trade, damaging future generations.
The statement went further to say that: “Migration has many drivers; people may be on the move in search of new livelihood opportunities, an education or to reunite with family, while conflict and violence, human rights violations, climate change, poverty and unemployment can all trigger migration and forced displacement. Any cooperation to manage migration should take into consideration this complex and multi-faceted reality, be evidence and needs-based, and ensure that the benefits of migration are maximised and the risks are mitigated.”
The move comes at a time when the EU faces possible internal destruction over the migration crisis, with Britain voting 52% in favour to leave the Union last Friday 24th June, sparking fears of a tsunami of EU referendums throughout Europe. However, the NGOs have argued that for the EU to call for global solidarity, “it needs to set the right example”, rather than embarking upon “a dark chapter in its history”.