He demanded that refugees rescued in the Mediterranean should be taken directly into reception centers in Tunisia and Egypt saying that — if the EU offered them an attractive offer — the countries would agree to the deal. Tunisia has already rejected the proposal while Egypt has signaled skepticism over the plan.
The news comes as the European Commission launched a legal case against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, which have refused to take part in a mandatory migrant relocation scheme intended to relieve pressure on both Italy and Greece, which have borne the brunt of migrant arrivals via the Mediterranean.
Aid for Africa
The European Commission has been pushing for North African countries — and Libya in particular — to do more to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean and to clamp down on people trafficking. 160,000 have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year.
According to the EU, between 2011 and 2016, some 630,000 irregular migrants and refugees reached Italy via the Central Mediterranean. Some were successfully smuggled across, while others were rescued at sea and disembarked in Italy. More than 13,000 lost their lives attempting the crossing, and many more died on their journey through the Sahara.
Tunisia is already receiving EU support to the tune of US$13 million to assist Tunisian authorities in controlling migration, as part of a scheme also applying to Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Libya. Similar to the EU-Turkey migrant deal — which is facing collapse as relations between the EU and Turkey continue to worsen since the failed coup of 2016 — the North Africa program is designed to use EU funds to assist the countries to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.