Leaders of the European Union (EU) member states agreed to keep tabs on inflow of migrants on all routes, as well as accelerate the return of illegal migrants, according to the conclusions of the bloc’s spring summit released early Friday.
“The EU will continue to remain vigilant on all major migration routes so as to be able to react rapidly to developments,” said the conclusions.
The European Council welcomes the Commission Communication on a Renewed Action Plan on Return… as well as the accompanying Recommendation to Member States, and invites the Council to rapidly examine them,” the conclusions added.
The conclusions also reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to supporting the Libyan authorities as well as their North African and southern neighbors in their efforts to address the challenges of illegal migration.
At an informal summit held in Malta in early February, the EU adopted a plan to aid Libya, aiming to bolster Libyan national coast guard’s capacity to control its territorial water and support the development of local communities. The EU also intended to torpedo the human trafficking network on the route.
However, The European Council on Friday conceded that its member states have failed to reach consensus on the conclusions for “reasons unrelated to its substance.”
“The European Council deliberated on the attached document. It was supported by 27 Members of the European Council, but it did not gather consensus, for reasons unrelated to its substance,” said the conclusions of the EU spring summit, released in the name of the European Council president, rather than of the council as usual.
It’s believed that Poland, disgruntled over Donald Tusk being re-elected the president of the European Council, refused to give its nod to the conclusions.
Tusk on Thursday won another term despite opposition from his home country Poland.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, on March 2 toughened its migration policy by floating a renewed action plan and a set of recommendations for its member states, in a bid to speed up the return of illegal migrants.
According to the action plan, the EU would shell out 200 million euros (210 million U.S. dollars) in 2017 to member states for their return efforts.
The EU also plans to improve information exchange to enforce return by collecting information in real time at a national level and sharing it among member states.
To prevent absconding, the EU recommended member states detain illegal migrants who have received a return decision and who show signs they will not comply.
To shore up effectiveness of return procedures and decisions, the EU advised member states to grant voluntary departure only if necessary, adding that if such a request were made, the illegal migrants should be given the shortest possible periods for departure.
Since the summer of 2015, an unprecedented refugee crisis has been a tough nut to crack for the EU, as more than one million migrants from the Middle East and North Africa fled for Europe. Enditem