Migration EU policymaking at the Mediterranean: The Achilles heel?

EU parliament

European Parliament, Brussels.

© Pexels - Jonas Horsch

At the end of last year, the European Commission stepped up its efforts to address the challenges concerning the migration management in the Mediterranean in publishing the “EU Action plan for the Central Mediterranean”.

Multiple challenges for the Central Mediterranean route

The Action Plan focused on the Central Mediterranean migratory route, which have faced an increase of 50% compared to 2021, concerning migrants and refugees arrival. The list of challenges concerning migration management in countries such as Libya and Tunisia, was already long before the figures reached in 2022. Although the European Union has been addressing several topics over the past years, including the fight against smuggling and putting in place targeted actions along the route, additional challenges seemed to add up over in 2022.

Three pillars for sustainable and structural European solutions

The EU Action Plan for the Central Mediterranean presented by the European Commission to the Council, in the framework of the Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council, of 25 November 2022, was designed to address the immediate challenges concerning the Central Mediterranean migratory route. The Action Plan proposes a series of 20 measures articulated around the three following pillars:

  • Pillar one: Strengthened cooperation with partner countries and international organizations. The EU will strengthen the capacities of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to ensure better border management and management of migration.
  • Pillar two: A more coordinated approach on search and rescue. The Action Plan proposes measures to strengthen cooperation between Member States and all actors involved in search and rescue activities in the Central Mediterranean.
  • Pillar three: Reinforced implementation on the Voluntary Solidarity Mechanism and the Joint Roadmap. The Solidarity Declaration for the Mediterranean, agreed on 22 June 2022, provides a voluntary and temporary mechanism for one year, bridging towards the future permanent system under the Pact.

In this line, the Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council held on the 25th of November, focused on the situation along all migratory routes and a joint way forward. The Ministers of the EU Member States and Schengen associated states emphasized the necessity to further improve cooperation with key third countries via maintained political outreach and operational follow-up with an integrated approach.



© FNF Madrid

Liberal solutions in the Mediterranean region

Migration is one of the strategic pillars of the FNF Madrid office, which aims at solutions for the Mediterranean region but also at fostering dialogue and promote liberal solutions to one of the world´s mega trends in Europe.

In the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue project, the FNF Madrid office, being aware of the multiple challenges posed by the migration management in the Mediterranean region, launched in 2020, the Migration policy group with the aim to gather liberal policy makers and experts in order to harmonize proposals and political action addressing migration issues.

In the upcoming months, FNF Madrid and its Spanish partner IEMed (European Institute of the Mediterranean) will present the insights of a stocktaking exercise on “Climate change and migration: understanding factors, developing opportunities in the Sahel Zone, West Africa and the Maghreb”. The project developed together with IEMed explores new perspectives on one of the main drivers on migration flows for the upcoming decades, in the region.

Migration: The new Mediterranean fatigue?

Getting back to EU policy making on migration issues, EU leaders  are expected to follow-up on their commitment towards the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which sets in balance the principles of fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity. Migration and the Mediterranean are inexorably two sides of the same coin for the EU.  In this regard, EU heads of state and government had committed to join efforts through multiple declarations, agreements and pacts. However, why is there no real action? Are we witnessing a new fatigue in the Mediterranean with regard to migration policies?

Despite the joint efforts, it seems that EU member States are still struggling to find a common ground concerning Migration EU policymaking. How many pacts and action plans are still needed in to finally put in place solutions and not only recommendations? 

Many questions remain unanswered and some more will arise while the EU keep strengthening cooperation with partner countries such as Libya. According to the World Report 2022 published by  the organization Human Rights Watch, in Libya  “migrants, asylum seekers and refugees were arbitrarily detained in inhumane conditions in facilities run by the GNA’s Interior Ministry and in “warehouses” run by smugglers and traffickers, where they were subjected to forced labor, torture and other ill-treatment, extortion, and sexual assault”. Nevertheless, the EU Action Plan for the Central Mediterranean reinforce the EU cooperation with Libya, trough the establishment of jointly targeted actions, the reinforcement of the EU/AU/ UN trilateral task force for Libya and certainly a slice of the EUR 580 million for 2021-2023 under NDICI- Global Europe.

In view to preserve its democracy flag, it is also in the EU’s own interest to establish migration cooperation policies with key third countries that ensure compliance with international human rights law, by transforming words into action and focusing on establishing legal pathways for migrants.