The European Commission has asked for U.S. assistance in dealing with the migrant crisis, including increased cooperation with American military in the Mediterranean and diplomatic pressure on Gulf states.
An internal document prepared by Commission staff and sent to Washington last month — “Potential areas of U.S. political and operational support on international migration and refugee crisis” — sets out areas where the EU thinks U.S. assistance can help control the number of Middle East migrants arriving in Europe, reports Politico.
The suggestions mainly fall into two areas: political and operational support. The requests are addressed to both the U.S. Departments of Defense and of State.
The suggestions include using American military forces to interrupt Mediterranean people-smuggling operations through an exchange of “relevant operational and tactical information”, and having the U.S. put diplomatic pressure on Gulf countries to do “significantly” more for Syrian refugees. Most controversially the EU asked the U.S. to “increase the number of Syrian refugees to be resettled among the U.S. global refugee quota in 2016 and 2017”.
In fact it is reported that ongoing talks between Washington and Brussels have led Secretary of State John Kerry to say the U.S. will resettle at least 85,000 refugees in the twelve months following October 2016, including a minimum of 10,000 Syrians. However, governors of several U.S. states have said they are not prepared to accept any Syrians.
For its part the U.S. is reported to have signaled its readiness to help the EU, especially in the light of heightened security concerns following the Paris attacks. The Greek-Turkish border has become an area of particular focus after Greece’s deputy prime minister for citizen protection, Nikos Toskas, confirmed earlier this week that two suspects involved in the Paris atrocity went through the Greek island of Leros as Syrian refugees in October.
Under the proposals the EU would establish an “effective liaison” between its Eunavfor Med, the newly launched mission to stop people smugglers, and the Mediterranean-based U.S. Sixth Fleet. EU officials says preliminary discussions on how such cooperation could work, likely to involve the sharing of “relevant U.S. intelligence information on smuggler business model/networks and the situation on the Libyan coast,” have already taken place with the U.S. ambassador to the EU, Anthony Gardner.
U.S. support for the Libyan Coast Guard and border authorities is also requested, along with a similar request that Washington help strengthen “the interception capacity of the Turkish Coast guard” and “capacity of Turkey to combat migrant smuggling.”