The EU’s plans to usher migrants across the Mediterranean and into European member states may lie in tatters after France joined Britain by saying “non!”, but that hasn’t stopped the Commission extending the friendly hand of paternalism across the Sea. EU officials have now drawn up plans to use European taxpayer money to set up migrant centres across Africa, starting in Niger.
According to the Express, the countries transited by migrants, which include territories beset by Islamic fundamentalism, will also be handed cash, in return for helping to turn the migrants round.
The EU gave away more than €13 billion (£9.4 billion) of taxpayers’ money in aid spending in 2013. In addition, each of the member states is committed to spending a further 0.7 percent of GDP on aid individually each year. For the UK, that that constituted a further £11.4 billion last year. In total, the bloc is the world’s largest aid donor, despite the economy of the region as a whole slowing down.
But Natasha Bertaud, a commission spokesman, told the Telegraph that the EU would be “stepping up cooperation with the home countries and linking development aid with cooperation on taking their nationals back.”
Specifically, the EU has pledged to fund centres located in Africa, which Ms Bertaud said are part of a policy of tackling the problem “close to the countries of origin” and “building up capacity to take migrants back.”
They will be located “far from the Mediterranean coast of North Africa” in order to intercept migrants before they are persuaded to make the perilous journey across the Sea, which has left 1800 people dead already this year.
An EU official has denied that the centres are refugee camps, saying “There is no plan to provide accommodation,” and Ms Bertraud that there would be “no remote processing” of asylum applications at the centres.
However, she said that EU officials would be present to identify those “in clear need of international protection, such as Syrians or Eritreans.” The UN could then request EU member-states or other Western countries to accept them as refugees.
The first centre is due to open in Niger later this year. Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou welcomed the EU plan, saying it was essential “to tackle the problem at its roots.
“The real solution is development,” he said. “People are leaving poor countries to go to rich ones quite simply because their circumstances are unbearable.”
But Nathan Gill MEP, UKIP International Development spokesman has slammed the plan, warning that international aid in Africa could find its way into the pockets of “unsavoury characters and pretty dubious charities”.
“As for the EU’s latest idea of paying people not to come here, it is only a short-term solution at best,” he added.