Ministers urge EU to ‘deepen’ ties to tackle migration roots


Ministers of interior and migration from the MED5 nations — Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain — discussed the new migration and asylum pact adopted by the EU Parliament on April 11.

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

During the Gran Canaria Island meeting, ministers of interior and migration from the 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 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, fueling 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.”

In February, the UK Home Office has said that a record 290 people arrived in small boats in a single day, thus taking the migrant Channel crossings in the country to more than 2000 so far this year.

This is the highest single-day number recorded on February 25 after 358 people were recorded on January 17, The Evening Standard reported on Tuesday.

According to the figures published Monday, the migrants crossed in five boats with an estimated 58 people per boat.

Beginning this year, a union of Border Force officials in the UK warned that the number of people arriving in small boats is expected to rise again this year.

Last year, 29,437 migrants made the crossing, compared to 45,774 in 2022, according to figures from the UK Home Office, but the number was the second-highest since 2018 — about 1,000 above the total in 2021.

Migrants coming in small boats has been a major political issue in the UK with more than 45,000 migrants crossing the English Channel in that manner to reach the UK in 2022.

Ever since then, “stopping the boats” has been one of the top priorities of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government with the leader admitting that it is “not easy” to fix the problem overnight.

The government has also tried to send migrants to Rwanda following an agreement with the African country.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said last week that the country’s moves to facilitate the removal of asylum-seekers to Rwanda run contrary to the basic principles of the rule of law and risk delivering a serious blow to human rights.

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