NGO efforts to help migrants reach Europe to conflict with new EU border protection proposals

NGO efforts to help migrants reach Europe to conflict with new EU border protection proposals

Charges will be brought against the German NGO Lifeline today for assisting migrants seeking to illegally cross the Mediterranean to

Italy Europe Migrants

Photo: Associated Press

Charges will be brought against the German NGO Lifeline today for assisting migrants seeking to illegally cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. The captain of one of its vessels is being charged due to his refusal to return onboard migrants to Libya.

The controversial charges come as European leaders reached an agreement on migrant returns and new funding for its border protection agency, Frontex, earlier in the week. The agreement will see Frontex provided with extra funding, as well as new powers that are expected to help it better secure Europe’s southern borders. These powers include a proposal by Austria to allow the deployment of Frontex personnel to ‘willing’ countries in order to stem migrant flows at their source. Additionally, the European Commission and Frontex remain tasked with reviewing the legality of external migrant processing camps in North Africa.

Europe shows no sign of easing its concerns over migration, despite the sharp drop in arrivals since the height of the crisis in 2015. With populist backlash over illegal immigration continuing to surge through national elections, the EU and national leaders are expected to continue developing new measures to address electoral concerns over immigration in the short-term. Processing camps and greater resources for Frontex are seen as vital to front-line states such as Italy, which also remain opposed to new European initiatives without comprehensive immigration reform.

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