EU interior ministers to focus border security amid sustained anti-migrant sentiment

EU interior ministers to focus border security amid sustained anti-migrant sentiment

EU interior ministers meet for two days of discussions on security and migration in Vienna today. Against the background of

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Photo: EPA/Mathieu Willcocks/AAP

EU interior ministers meet for two days of discussions on security and migration in Vienna today.

Against the background of sustained gains by anti-migrant populists—illustrated again over the weekend with far-right Sweden Democrats’ placing second in national polls—today’s talks will focus on police cooperation with non-EU states in southeastern Europe to discuss asylum, migration and border management. Tomorrow, the discussion will turn to working with North African countries on migration and security.

The EU has invested in migrant source countries like Niger—where $1.16 billion was committed from 2017 to 2020—to train Niger’s border authorities and disperse development aid to the government. Although data are disputed, Niger has touted an 80% decrease in illegal border crossings into neighbouring transit countries.

While irregular arrival numbers have reduced from a high of 2.3 million in 2016 to 204,700 last year to only 37,000 this year to date, political sentiment seems to be lagging behind. The likes of German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, under huge pressure from far-right AfD ahead of provincial elections in October, to continue to pressure action to keep undocumented migrants in North Africa. Expect increasingly similar tough talk from European mainstream parties reeling from populists’ continent-wide electoral successes.

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