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Mediterranean ministers urge EU to 'deepen' ties to tackle migration roots

By AFP

April 20, 2024 08:36 PM


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Ministers from five Mediterranean nations on Saturday urged the EU to "deepen" bilateral agreements with migrant countries of origin and increase funding to tackle the root causes of migration.

Meeting on Gran Canaria Island, interior and migration ministers from the so-called MED5 nations -- Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain -- discussed the new migration and asylum pact adopted by the EU parliament on April 11.

Years in the making, the deal involves a sweeping reform of the bloc's asylum policies that will both harden border procedures while forcing all 27 nations to share responsibility for migrant arrivals.

The reform was spurred by the massive influx of migrants in 2015, with its provisions taking effect in 2026.

Hailing the pact as "historic", Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said there was "still a long way to go" and that the solution lay in "prevention" and addressing the root causes of migration "at its source".

"The key to migration management lies in bilateral cooperation," he told a news conference, urging the European Commission "to deepen and broaden partnerships and agreements with third countries" to stem flows of irregular migrants.

"But we believe there is room for improvement and the commitment should also focus on increasing European funds and flexible financing tools destined for such cooperation," he said.

Under current EU rules, the arrival country bears responsibility for hosting and vetting asylum-seekers and returning those deemed inadmissible, which has put southern frontline states under huge pressure, fuelling far-right opposition.

The new EU pact, which includes building border centers to hold asylum-seekers and sending some to outside "safe" countries, has been denounced by migrant charities and NGOs, with Amnesty International warning it would "lead to greater human suffering".


AFP


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