Was the Paris refugee summit a success?

European and African leaders have met in Paris to discuss ways of stemming migration across the Mediterranean. Asylum applications could now be processed directly in African states. Some commentators welcome the move, but doubt it can be implemented. Others are aghast, and call the meeting the summit of disgrace.

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Kurier (AT) /

Key questions left unanswered

The establishment of European asylum centres in Africa remains a pipe dream for the time being, Kurier sighs:

“The idea of being able to make a clear distinction between economic migrants and those truly in need of protection right on their doorstep sounds tempting on the face of it. The fact is, however, that there are enormous obstacles to setting up reception centres for asylum seekers in Africa. ... Nevertheless the goal of ensuring legal migration from Africa rather than illegal people smuggling through Europe remains both correct and honourable. However the key question addressed openly by Angela Merkel yesterday is still unanswered: how many refugees is Europe ready to take in? Or to paraphrase the chancellor: can we really do it? An answer is not to be expected from the chancellor - or anyone else probably - until after this autumn's elections at the earliest.”

Huffington Post Italia (IT) /

Murder and torture as collateral damage

The EU wants to recruit Libya as a border guard, Filippo Miraglia, vice-president of the leftist non-profit organisation ARCI writes bitterly in his blog with the Huffington Post:

“Yet our experiences with Turkey have shown that money can buy anything. ... We've given Erdoğan, who holds Europe's democracies in such high regard, six billion euros. (His undermining of the rule of law in Turkey and extermination of the Kurds is just collateral damage). Now we're about to do the same with [the prime minister of the internationally recognized transitional government Fayez al-Sarraj in the Libyan hell. The goal is to stop the refugees, naturally for their own good. Women will continue to be raped, thousands of people will go on being blackmailed and tortured. But of course that's all just acceptable collateral damage.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Respect the rights of those needing protection

Europe must not try to shirk its responsibilities vis-à-vis refugees, the Guardian warns:

“The talks centred on stemming migration flows closer to their source. This makes sense, but only if the rights of migrants who need urgent protection are respected. Europe's strategies must not amount to pushing the problem further away from its shores, rather than trying to solve it. ... Europe is in effect externalising its migration problem to African countries, after partly outsourcing it to Turkey. Yet as migration routes shift, the human tragedies simply go with them.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

EU trade policy is counterproductive

To combat the causes of migration effectively the EU must change its trade policy with Africa, writes Deutschlandfunk:

“While on the one hand money and effort is being expended to keep people in their home countries, on the other Europe is destroying all that with its trade policy: in the framework of so-called economic partnerships the countries of Africa are to open up their markets for EU products - otherwise they won't be allowed to export their products at a discount rate to Europe anymore. At the same time the EU is securing access to valuable resources that it needs, for example to make computer chips. Value creation happens here - not in Africa. As long as Europe continues to see African countries as suppliers of cheap raw materials and a market for its agricultural surpluses, every euro that is used to counter the causes of the exodus is a euro spent in vain.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

First help Libya get back on its feet

The meeting initiated by Macron only deserves praise if the unspeakable conditions in Libyan refugee camps are discussed at the very least behind closed doors, Hospodářské noviny stresses:

“The people in these camps are beaten, raped, robbed. In short, they are living in the worst imaginable conditions. Anyone who calls for centres to be set up in which refugees can register to apply for asylum in Europe without leaving Africa - as Macron did not long ago - should take a closer look at what is really going on in this war-torn North African country. It's utopian to think that such centres could be set up by the end of the year. Libya needs help. Not only to get back on its feet, but also to ensure that it starts treating refugees like human beings.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Words must be translated into action

Although a few more concrete proposals wouldn't have gone amiss the summit was a success in terms of diplomacy, La Stampa concludes:

“Yesterday evening four European leaders, the presidents of Libya, Niger and Chad and the EU's foreign policy chief adopted the Italian approach: the refugee problem must be solved in Africa. If their words are followed by deeds then we will finally be on the right path. ... A true 'European' effort of the kind our prime minister wants is still a distant goal. ... But genuine consensus among Macron, Rajoy, Merkel and Gentiloni is worth more than any declaration from Brussels.”