EU vows to step up returns of people who make it to Europe but do not have a case for asylum
VALLETTA, Feb 3 (Reuters) - EU leaders endorsed on Friday new steps to stem immigration from Africa, the latest in the bloc's increasing efforts to shut its borders after some 1.6 million refugees and migrants made it to Europe through the Mediterranean in 2014-2016.
The latest measures - largely led by Italy - include more funding for the U.N.-backed government in Libya and aid agencies operating there, to help fight people smugglers and improve conditions for migrants on the ground.
Here are key elements of the 28 EU leaders agreement on Friday. Please follow the link for the full version.
* The bloc vows to respect human rights and international law in dealing with migration. To that end, it seeks close engagement with the U.N. refugees and migration agencies - the UNHCR and IOM, respectively.
* "We are determined to take additional action to significantly reduce migratory flows along the Central Mediterranean route and break the business model of smugglers... We will step up our work with Libya as the main country of departure as well as with its North African and sub-Saharan neighbours."
* They vowed support for the U.N.-backed government in Libya, and to engage more with regional and local communities, which often control the situation on the ground.
* Financing to come from: the EU's development aid for Africa worth a total of 31 billion euros from 2014-2020; EU's Trust Fund for Africa that is due to add 1.8 billion euros from the bloc's central budget to 152 million euros of member states' contributions.
Of that second batch, the bloc's executive European Commission proposed to mobilise 200 million euros this year specifically for migration projects in Libya. Italy has separately opened its own fund with the same goals, which is also worth 200 million euros.
* The bloc vows to step up returns of people who make it to Europe but do not have a case for asylum.
* Key concrete projects include:
- training, equipment and support for the Libyan coast guard
- more joint efforts to fight people smugglers
- supporting local communities in Libya
- with UNHCR and IOM, upgrading camps for migrants in Libya
- financing IOM to step up voluntary returns of migrants
- more information campaigns to discourage migrants from trying to make it to Europe
- helping Libya better protect its borders, especially to the south
more engagement with Libya's neighbours - Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Niger
(Compiled by Gabriela Baczynska)
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