An ongoing meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union will discuss Friday ways to reduce the number of refugees coming to Europe from troubled regions in its proximity, notably North Africa. The meeting comes in the backdrop of refugees being denied entry into Europe via Greece, resulting in an increasing number of boats trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North African countries like Libya.
Interior ministers from EU member states “will exchange views on the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement and on the developments regarding the Central Mediterranean,” according to the agenda posted on the council’s website.
Citing “the growing instability in the EU’s southern neighborhood” as the reason for the increasing number of people trying to make it to the continent, the council is “intensifying efforts to establish an effective, humanitarian and safe European migration policy.” A part of those efforts would be to check “the root causes of migration flows” by trying “to address the reasons causing people to flee” their home countries.
According to EU estimates, about 45,000 people have already reached Italy — it may soon become the main destination of refugees who cross the Mediterranean — this year, about the same number that arrived in the country through all of 2015. A calmer sea is expected to encourage greater numbers of people to attempt the dangerous, and often fatal, crossing.
Worried about the long-term impact from a huge inflow of African refugees, the EU is also reportedly considering making its trade and development aid ties with African nations contingent on their ability to control the outflow of refugees.
Liberalization of visas for Turkish citizens — a key demand by Turkey for the refugee deal with EU — will also be discussed at the Friday meeting.