ECFR – Pushing the boundaries: How to create more effective migration cooperation across the Mediterranean

January 2019

Summary

  • In 2018 Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia roundly rejected EU plans for ‘regional disembarkation platforms’ out of concern: around the cost of hosting migrants on their own soil; for public opinion; and to remind Europe of their own sovereignty.
  • North African governments further point out that they too have migration issues to deal with, including growing pressure on their borders, integration of newcomers, and domestic discontent about migration.
  • While the EU’s concerns about irregular migration are legitimate, the proposal for disembarkation platforms was likely a misstep, as it only fuelled tension in the relationship with its southern neighbours.
  • That said, Europe and North Africa already have a long and mature relationship when it comes to cooperating on migration matters. The 2018 proposal for disembarkation platforms may now be a non-starter. But opportunities remain for the EU to deepen its partnership working with Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia on border control and – although this area is more contested – on migrant returns.

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