Talks with Libya over migration to take time

The EU will be taking its time before engaging in direct talks with the new Libyan authorities to strike a deal on illegal migration.

Although the issue is of direct importance to Malta, the European Commission yesterday said negotiations with Libya on this issue will only start once “the conditions in Libya are right”. It did not give any timeframe.

Over the past years, the island has seen thousands of immigrants departing from Libyan ports and landing on its shores, hoping to reach Europe.

Before the start of the Libyan uprising, Brussels had been negotiating with the Gaddafi regime to try to reach a comprehensive deal on migration, which involved financial help from the EU in compensation for a readmission agreement with Tripoli.

However, the deal never materialised as Libya continued to up its stakes, even demanding €5 billion a year if the EU did not want to be “invaded by African blacks”.

Although Malta and Italy’s expectations of striking a deal with neighbouring Libya were boosted after the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, Brussels is making it clear it will not be rushing in. Announcing a new EU approach to migration, Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said the Commission was seeking to build mobility partnerships with its neighbours, which would facilitate legal migration to the EU while fighting the illegal kind.

The idea is for the EU to reach wide-ranging agreements with North African countries. These would entail setting up migration centres to help people enter the EU and find legal work as well as development aid and cooperation in various fields. In exchange there would be readmission agreements under which migrants reaching the EU illegally would be sent back to their own countries.

Ms Malmström said negotiations were already under way with Egypt and Tunisia.

(Source: Times of Malta)

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