France, Benelux to propose EU aid for Africa in return for migrant help

France and the three Benelux countries on Thursday launched a plan to offer EU funds to African countries in return for help stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.

With the issue of immigration fuelling populist movements across Europe, the EU is under pressure to come up with ways to stop the arrival of illegal migrants, many of whom risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean in rickety boats.

French President Emmanuel Macron and the prime ministers of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands said they had agreed on "concrete" proposals to put forward at a meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg, Austria, later this month.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte said that "agreements like those concluded with Turkey" were needed to build on a hard-fought but vague deal on migration thrashed out at an EU summit in June.

The EU struck a deal with Turkey in 2016 in a effort to stem the flow of migrants, under which Ankara agreed to take back illegal migrants landing on Greek islands in exchange for incentives including financial aid.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Over the last year the bloc has been stepping up its efforts to support African countries with aid and investment in a bid to reduce the incentives for people to leave their home countries to seek a better life in Europe.

"The European Union must deploy a form of Marshall Plan for Africa, with a concrete operational ambition with African partners", said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

The four leaders also urged more help for European countries of first arrival, Italy and Spain, to deal with the arrivals, but all maintain that these countries must have responsibility for arrivals - a major point of contention with Italy.

The hardline anti-migrant government in Rome has demanded the EU rotate the ports where migrants rescued in the Mediterranean disembark, arguing that Italy was shouldering an unfair burden.

Italy has been turning away ships with migrants rescued at sea in a campaign to force other EU countries to take them, and last month it threatened to block the EU budget over the issue.

Macron said the countries of arrival "have a responsibility and they cannot get rid of it, but there must be financial solidarity".

"We have made progress today and together we will bring concrete solutions to the Salzburg summit," he added.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
A Section 89 panel headed by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo found President Cyril Ramaphosa has an impeachable case to answer on the Phala Phala scandal.
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Ramaphosa should do the honourable thing and immediately resign.
22% - 2067 votes
Ramaphosa should follow due process and submit himself to an impeachment hearing.
30% - 2793 votes
Ramaphosa should fight the findings in court and keep his job at all costs
48% - 4510 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.34
+0.7%
Rand - Pound
21.05
+1.1%
Rand - Euro
18.15
+0.9%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.60
+0.8%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.8%
Gold
1,771.82
+0.2%
Silver
22.19
-0.3%
Palladium
1,856.14
-1.1%
Platinum
991.00
-0.9%
Brent Crude
82.68
-3.5%
Top 40
68,420
-0.2%
All Share
74,557
-0.2%
Resource 10
73,980
-1.1%
Industrial 25
91,397
-0.1%
Financial 15
15,738
+0.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE