Sánchez backs Morocco’s call for support to stem migrant flows

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez chat with European Council president Donald Tusk and France President Emmanuel Macron during the June European Council. [European Commission]

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has included a Moroccan demand of resources for border management, in a letter addressed to the European Commission requesting further emergency assistance to tackle the surge in migrant arrivals.

A €55 million fund was approved as part of the Border Management program that will serve mainly for equipment for the border guards in Morocco.

However, this is only one of the Moroccan government’s demands that Sánchez included in an annexe to the letter addressed to the president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, EU officials told EURACTIV. The Commission is “quickly” assessing the request, sources added.

The Western Mediterranean route, from Morocco to Spain, is already the main entry point for irregular migrants to the EU. As to 30 July, 23,993 people have arrived in Europe through this course, above the 18,298 to Italy.

Spanish-Moroccan cooperation has been crucial in cutting the number of arrivals.

Sanchez’s request follows up on the European Council commitment in June to step up the efforts to support front-line countries “especially Spain” and countries of origin and transit, “in particular Morocco,” to prevent irregular migration.

Earlier in July, the European Commission awarded €24.8 million to Spain to enhance its reception capacity, providing healthcare, food, and shelter to migrants arriving on the southern coast of Spain, Ceuta and Melilla.

Over 600 migrants force entry into North African Spanish enclave

More than 600 African migrants forced their way through the heavily fortified border fence separating the Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta from Morocco on Thursday, using circular saws, shears and mallets to cut through the wire.

A further €720,000 was made available to the Ministry of Interior to improve return facilities and infrastructures for returns transfers.

“Spain has seen arrival figures increase during the past year and we need to step up our support to help manage the numbers and return those who have no right to stay,” said Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos then.

This comes on top of the €692 million allocated to Spain for migration, border and security management under national programmes for the period 2014-2020.

Frontex has also increased its presence and support for Spain. Around 195 officers, two ships, an aeroplane and a helicopter have been deployed to assist with border surveillance, search and rescue and tackling organised crime.

Frontex operations in Spain used to be seasonal. The considerable increase of the migratory flows in the Western Mediterranean route led to making them run throughout the whole year.

EU keeps working on disembarkation platforms 

On Monday (30 July) representatives of the European Union, the International Organization for Migration, UNCHR, Northern African countries – except for Libya and Algeria – as well as the African Union gathered in Geneva.

The main objective of the meeting is to ensure enhance cooperation in search and rescue in the Mediterranean, to work on partnerships and to share their vision on the disembarkation platforms in third countries.

The EU does not expect any particular outcome but hopes to have a good discussion with its neighbours and work towards an agreement by autumn.

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