Hotspots in North Africa? Paris takes the initiative

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday announced plans to set up hotspots in Libya as early as this summer, before retracting the statement just a few hours later. The security situation in the country precludes such a move, the Elysée announced, adding that feasibility studies would be carried out for Libya's border region with Niger and Chad. Europe's commentators weigh up the pros and cons of Macron's initiative.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

A lot of potential and a lot of risks

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung can see several advantages to Macron's proposals:

“The arguments in favour of such centres are clear: asylum seekers could register there but any migrants that have no prospects of being granted residency in Europe could be prevented from embarking on the dangerous crossing; the smugglers' business model would be at least partially dismantled. However many questions still remain to be resolved: according to which rules would the centres be run, and under whose supervision? Wouldn't it be necessary to deploy a military component in Libya, a collapsed state? And wouldn't such centres act like magnets, attracting migrants from all over the place? One thing is clear: anyone who wants to stem migration must also reduce the incentives.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Tackle the problem at its root

Le Figaro also backs the idea of hotspots in Libya:

“The idea is to tackle the root of the problem on the African continent rather than inside our borders when it's already too late. ... Of course that won't eliminate this complex and long-term problem, particularly since 'setting yourself up' on Libyan territory is a delicate matter. Above all if the Europeans, who are often remarkably inefficient regarding refugee policy, fail to follow suit or drag their feet.”

Kurier (AT) /

A question of morals

Those who want to stop the flow of refugees with hotspots in North Africa must bear the moral responsibility for their actions, Kurier comments:

“We'll be sending hundreds of thousands of people back to a country where they are abused, raped, and robbed of their last possessions, and where they will have to live in conditions that leave all those who have seen them speechless. We'll become partners of armed militias and a dictator who tramples human rights underfoot. It's legitimate for politicians to believe they have to resort to such measures to protect their populations from illegal immigration. But then they'll have to admit that human rights play no role in their decisions.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Macron's risky bet

Il Sole 24 Ore believes that in the end Paris will negotiate a refugee deal with Libya - and urges caution:

“France has enormous problems with its integration policy and is trying to solve them in its own way: by closing its ports and desperately trying to find someone who is willing to do the dirty work, whether it's [military leader Khalif] Haftar or [prime minister of the transition government] al-Sarraj. Because that's what setting up hotspots in Libya boils down to. … After Germany, which closed down the Balkan route thanks to the deal with Erdoğan, Paris now wants to take the same approach in North Africa and the Sahel zone. This is a risky strategy: the Libyans could think up far more devious blackmail plans than Erdoğan.”