EU wants to stop exodus from Africa
At their summit today in Malta, the EU and African heads of state and government hope to agree on an action plan for preventing Africans from fleeing to Europe. The EU is once again betraying its basic principles and closing its doors, some commentators criticise. For others, the proposals don't go far enough to stop the exodus.
A beggar without principles
The refugee crisis is turning the EU into a beggar without principles, first vis-à-vis Ankara and now the African states, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore comments: "In both cases, in Turkey and at the EU-Africa summit, the EU has had to be reserved and go against its fundamental principles to achieve its goal. For years the Union, prompted by a post-colonial desire for atonement, has pumped development aid into the Black Continent. These funds were accompanied by lectures on democratic and political ethics delivered to dictatorial or highly controversial regimes. This has produced two results: the funds have been frittered away, almost always ending up in the black hole of corruption. And the recipients have become increasingly annoyed with these lecturers who are sometimes also their accomplices. But if Europe is now trying to seek the solution to the crisis beyond its own borders this is because its inability to master the crisis on its own is becoming increasingly obvious."
Africans still under house arrest
It is doubtful that humane solutions to the refugee crisis will be found in Malta, Emmanuel Blanchard, director of the French NGO Migreurop, writes on the blog website Open Democracy: "The EU and its member states have shown themselves willing to engage in all sorts of shameful behaviour: military operations led by France and Belgium in the Sahel are now envisaged as a way of cutting off migration routes; plans have been made to construct camps in Niger to facilitate forced or 'voluntary' returns away from European borders; the most repressive regimes ... receive subsidies to contain their populations and 'securitise' their borders. ... It is these values - inhospitality, denial of basic rights and cynical bargaining - that the EU brings to the international negotiating table today in Valletta. … In business as usual, it will stubbornly defend the house arrest of the majority of the world's population and the de facto establishment of an 'emigration crime'."
Migration only a problem for the EU
The EU leaders want to stem northward migration but their African colleagues have no interest in such efforts, the centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung points out: "It would be naive to believe that Africa's heads of state and government want to stop their citizens' exodus. For many of them it is very convenient that thousands of people, predominantly young men, are leaving the country to find work in the north and then send money home. Millions of large families depend on such money transfers. If they prevent young people from setting off for Europe even more hopelessness and frustration will build up in their own country. … So the Europeans shouldn't expect their African colleagues to join forces with them against migration; a phenomenon which is perceived as a 'problem' only on this side of the Mediterranean."
Just a drop in the ocean
The EU-Africa Summit in Malta is just an alibi and doesn't stand the slightest chance of success, the conservative daily Die Presse criticises: "Too little, too late: that's how you could sum up the EU's summit in Malta. The EU's Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, whose budget of 1.8 billion euros is simply laughable in view of the mammoth task it faces, looks completely hamstrung. That said, although the EU's relief fund looks a lot like an alibi, the measures it lists certainly go in the right direction: financial aid for the development of a state infrastructure, security and border controls, financial incentives for the repatriation of refugees stranded in Europe, and an easing of visa restrictions - so to speak as a reward for cooperating with the EU. All of this is all very well but no more than the proverbial drop in the ocean. The fight against mass exodus should have started far sooner and been fought with much more commitment."