The European Union’s most senior migration official has admitted that no north African country has yet agreed to host migrant screening centres to process refugee claims.
Details of an EU plan to prevent migrants drowning at sea emerged on Thursday after Italy criticised the agenda of an emergency summit for not offering enough to help it cope with arrivals.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, said the EU wanted to “intensify cooperation” with Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Niger and Morocco, as he announced the intention to create a “regional disembarkation scheme”.
So far no African country had agreed to host screening centres, he confirmed. “It has to be discussed with these countries, he said. “An official proposal has not been put on the table.”
The idea for offshore migrant processing centres remains sketchy, with numerous political, practical and legal questions unanswered. It remains unclear, for example, whether migrants on a rescue ship in European waters could be returned to a north African country.
of EU rules that threatens to unravel the common asylum system.Tensions are running high after Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said he was not ready to discuss secondary movements “without having first tackled the emergency of ‘primary movements’ that Italy has ended up dealing with alone”.