Home Featured EU leaders flock to Egypt to ink €7.4B economic aid, migration deal – POLITICO
EU leaders flock to Egypt to ink €7.4B economic aid, migration deal – POLITICO

EU leaders flock to Egypt to ink €7.4B economic aid, migration deal – POLITICO

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The EU-Egypt deal coincides with an uptick in irregular migration to the bloc of wealthy countries. Following a lull in 2022, the EU faced a surge in migrants arriving via the Mediterranean Sea during 2023 and numbers are climbing again in 2024, according to the EU official.

A deal inked with Tunisia last July and the one due to be signed Sunday are aimed, in part, to limit access to Libya, where many migrants fall prey to human traffickers, the official added.

Growing controversy

The €7.4 billion for Egypt marks the latest payout for countries in Europe’s periphery following similar deals also with Turkey, Mauritania and, likely in coming months, Morocco. In addition, the EU has increased resources for border agency Frontex, which now counts more than 10,000 agents under its flag.

the EU faced a surge in migrants arriving via the Mediterranean Sea during 2023 and numbers are climbing again in 2024 | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Even so, right-wing and conservative EU parties want to go further. In its election manifesto, the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) calls for Frontex’s staff to be tripled to 30,000.

The drive to curb migration comes despite growing controversy, with some critics suggesting a discrepancy between the bloc’s approach to refugees from Ukraine and those coming from further afield.

“We have a war in Europe,” said the EU official. “The objective for them is to go back home once the war is over. The large majority of people crossing the Mediterranean are economic migrants — a completely different model.

Critics also argue that Brussels is forking over huge sums to autocratic leaders who may misuse it, with little oversight in terms of respect for human rights. Last October, Tunisia refused entry to a group of EU lawmakers seeking to check how the EU-Tunis deal was being implemented.

Human rights groups argue that the deal with Tunisia has merely redirected migrants toward neighboring Libya, a war-torn country known for modern-day slavery, human traffickers and horrific mistreatment of migrants.

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