France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands said that they had proposed a plan to provide EU aid to African countries in exchange for their help to stem migration to Europe. While migration is fuelling populism across the continent, Brussels is under pressure to come up with solutions to stop the influx of migrants. French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country and the three Benelux partners had agreed on “concrete” proposals to present to EU leaders who are gathering in Salzburg later this month.
The EU made a deal with Ankara in 2016 to tame the flow of migrants under which Turkey agreed to take back illegal migrants landing on Greek islands in exchange for EU funds worth €3 billion. The EU has been stepping up its efforts to help Africa through investment and development aid to motivate people to stay in their home countries instead of seeking a new 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 leaders of the four EU countries also called for more help for the countries of the first arrival, such as Italy, Spain and Malta, but maintain that these countries need to be responsible for those arrivals. French President said that these countries of arrival “have a responsibility and they cannot get rid of it, but there must be financial solidarity”.This is a contentious point for Rome, who has recently had a few incidents of returning rescue ships with migrants while forcing other EU member countries to take them.