His letter to the European Commission highlights the EU’s internal conflict between those pursuing ever-tougher policies to end illegal immigration and others emphasizing humanistic considerations. leadership and shortcomings of the labor market.
Italy, the Netherlands and European institutions signed an agreement with Tunisia in July, promising aid to Tunis in exchange for President Kais Saied’s crackdown on smugglers and tighter controls on air departures. sea.
Italy, where anti-immigrant Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is engaged in an uphill battle to fulfill her election promise to reduce the number of refugees and migrants arriving by sea from Africa, welcomed the true partnership”.
But in a letter dated August 2, Baerbock expressed “incomprehension” about what she said was a lack of adequate consultation with other countries in the 27 bloc.
“Democracy, human rights and the rule of law must guide us in our cooperation – something that was not given suitable consideration, in the agreement with Tunisia,” she wrote.
“The MoU (memorandum of understanding) with Tunisia cannot become a template for further agreements,” she added.
A related 7 September letter by the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, which also is not public but was seen by Reuters, highlighted a legal precedent suggesting the Commission might lose in court if sued.
Borrell wrote that similar memoranda of understanding could be made with other Mediterranean neighbors, including Egypt. Despite the criticism, neither he nor the German minister believe the agreement should be revoked.
Both letters were addressed to the European Commissioner for the Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, a member of the European Commission appointed by Hungary and considered an ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, one of the most prominent the toughest voice in the EU against immigration from the Middle East and Africa.
‘Serious violations and abuses’
Asked to comment on the letters, a European Commission spokesman said the EU executive had fully consulted with member states.
On Friday, the EC announced 60 million euros in support for the Tunisian budget and an additional 67 million euros in aid for migrants.
The spokesman said the aid was linked to an agreement with Tunisia and “will help us deal with the emergency we are seeing in Lampedusa”, a small Italian island and The first stop for many people who want to join the EU.
But in an August 17 letter to the EU, also seen by Reuters, human rights experts commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva listed numerous allegations of serious abuses against migrants by the Tunisian government.
Disputes over the management of refugees and migrants have plagued the EU since more than a million people crossed the Mediterranean on dangerous smuggling boats in 2015. It surprised the bloc, overwhelmed its security and reception capacity, and caused fierce conflicts among member countries, shaking the bloc’s solidarity.
The disagreements are far from resolved, as letters sent to Meloni calling for more European measures against African migrants, including maritime duties to stop those departing, suggest idea.
The EU abandoned a similar operation several years ago after criticism, including from Meloni herself, that it had acted ineffectively and illegally in its duty to save lives.
Growing anti-immigrant rhetoric is expected to resonate across the EU in the run-up to the continent’s parliamentary elections in June 2024, although the bloc also welcomes received millions of immigrant refugees from Russia’s war in Ukraine.