Emmanuel Macron’s plans for asylum requests to be handled in Libya, Chad and Niger to try and stem the flow of refugees to Europe has been branded “racist and inhumane” by left-wingers in the European Parliament.
The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed the plan to stem the flow of people travelling the Western Mediterranean migration route to Europe at a summit in Paris on Monday.
The approach would in part involve European nations helping to set up migrant processing centers in African countries so people could apply before travelling across the sea.
The plan, part of a package of measures including extra EU funding for the countries’ border controls and coastguards, comes despite the fact the Libya does not have a functioning government in control of the whole country, and is in some parts still a war-zone.
European Parliament’s Rapporteur on the Commission’s Union Resettlement Framework, Left MEP Malin Björk, said the plan was “tainted by structural racism towards the African population”.
“Europe has no right to criminalise mobility or movement - especially not in third countries,” the Swedish MEP said.
“Irregular migration is not a crime - by calling it a crime is akin to calling these people criminals. The most worrying aspect of this plan is that it is coupled with stopping spontaneous arrivals at European territory completely. This breaches the international right to leave one's country and to seek asylum.
“Furthermore, using resettlement as the framework within which EU externalises its borders is to destroy over five decades of humanitarian work and international solidarity. In terms of increased loss of human lives and suffering, the consequences of this plan will be disastrous.”
The parliamentary Left GUE/NGL’s coordinator at the Parliament’s committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Cornelia Ernst, said “I am appalled by how this proposal ignores once again the fact that there is no state in Libya at the moment.
The German MEP added: “There is no accountable authority there, no judicial system - and we hardly know who controls what part of the country. This is lawlessness and that is the opposite of asylum.”
Mr Macron has said that the plan would “avoid people taking crazy risks when they are not all eligible for asylum”.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies