EU leaders agreed Thursday to provide support to third-party countries to reduce migratory pressure at the bloc’s borders.
EU heads of states and governments began a two-day summit by discussing migration and encouraged a new migration strategy that opens the way for the EU to sign similar deals with third party countries as the one struck with Turkey in 2016.
According to published migration chapters of the summit’s conclusions, the bloc will aim at intensifying “mutually beneficial partnerships and cooperation with countries of origin and transit” to “prevent loss of life and to reduce pressure on European borders.”
Leaders instructed the European Commission and the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, to immediately “reinforce concrete actions with, and tangible support for, priority countries of origin and transit.”
They also asked the EU executive body and Borrell to present an action plan to further support countries that tackle root causes of migration, support refugees and displaced persons in the region and eradicate human smuggling and trafficking.
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Without naming any country, they condemned and rejected attempts to “instrumentalize migrants for political purposes.”
Due to a diplomatic spat between Morocco and Spain, Rabat suspended border controls and nearly 9,000 people tried to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on May 17.
Despite the condemnation, the North-African transit countries of Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya might be the main beneficiaries of the EU’s renewed approach to migration and the bloc might also boost development aid to sub-Saharan countries.
The 2016 deal between Ankara and the bloc was reached to stop irregular refugee flows and improve the conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The EU pledged €6 billion ($6.5 billion) in aid for refugees hosted by Turkey.
EU leaders are also expected to discuss the bloc’s future relations with Turkey, including the renewal of support for refugees.