The EU 10-point action plan proposed to solve the Mediterranean migrant crisis
Published 21/04/2015 | 23:33
The European Union's executive arm has proposed a 10-point action plan for dealing with the unprecedented influx of migrants across the Mediterranean.
Here is a look at each point of the plan, which will be fleshed out by EU leaders at a crisis summit on Thursday, and an assessment of how likely each is to help the situation.
Action 1: Provide more money and assets for EU operations in the Mediterranean, such as the Triton border mission, which manages the bloc's borders and monitors migrant flows. Extend their operational area, allowing ships to work farther from European coastlines.
The 28 EU member states continually pay lip-service to beefing up the Frontex border agency, of which Triton is a part. No country has announced it will provide more funds or assets, although the summit provides a high-profile occasion for such contributions.
Action 2: Capture and destroy boats used by smugglers. To be done by a civil-military mission working closer to Libya than current efforts. The EU executive says Atalanta, the EU's anti-piracy operation off Somalia, is a good model.
Atalanta is led by Britain, but with migration a big election issue there, a large British role would seem unlikely. There might also be legal obstacles to European navies destroying boats. Many pirate boats are stolen and could be owned by EU citizens.
Action 3: Get EU police, legal, asylum and border agencies to help track down smugglers by stepping up cooperation and information-gathering.
EU member states are notoriously reluctant to share information. The EU's data supervisor held up an exchange of intelligence between the police agency Europol and border agency Frontex for about four months over privacy concerns.
Action 4: Deploy teams from the EU's asylum agency EASO in Italy and Greece to process asylum applications. This process should take around four months but can take many more. The plan is to reduce that to two months.
Generally seen as a good thing.
Action 5: Have EU member countries ensure the fingerprinting of all migrants.
This is supposed to happen already. Italy has been accused of failing to do so in certain cases, allowing migrants to move further into northern Europe.
Action 6: Consider options for emergency relocation that would ease pressure on countries like Italy, Greece and Malta.
While paying lip-service to solidarity and burden-sharing, member states are reluctant to provide resources. No binding system exists to force countries to respect their pledges to share the burden.
Action 7: Launch an EU-wide voluntary project on resettling people.
This would not be binding. Some countries do not have even the minimum EU accommodation standards to host refugees. EU policy maker Monika Hohlmeier spoke of one member state official who asked her whether his country could pay for asylum seekers to be housed in another EU nation "because their public wouldn't like the idea".
Action 8: Establish a new return programme for the rapid return of migrants refused residency in the EU. This would be coordinated from the main frontline states like Italy, Greece and Malta.
In 2013, EU member states rejected the applications of 425,875 people and they were supposed to leave. In practice only 166,975 people, less than 40%, were sent back.
Action 9: Engage with Libya's neighbours to stop the flow of people into the conflict-torn country, which lacks a strong central authority. A pilot project involving Niger is already in the pipeline. Contact has also been made with Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt.
While logical as longer term policy, this will not save lives in the Mediterranean in the short term.
Action 10: Deploy immigration officers to key countries - chiefly Niger, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Turkey - to gather intelligence on migration flows and strengthen the role of EU delegations in those countries.
Outsourcing asylum screening abroad has been criticised by humanitarian groups. They see it as Europe failing in its obligations to deal with the flows of people heading to its shores.