Angela Merkel says Friday’s EU summit sends a message of optimism. The euro currency and reducing the routes by which displaced people can reach the bloc were among the items on the agenda at the top-level talks. European Union leaders praised progress made on Friday, the second day of their summit. The future of their bloc remained in sharp focus as they discussed economic growth, trade and migration.
After the talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the summit had sent a new message of optimism, and that her cooperation with her newest partner in France, the novice President Emmanuel Macron, had helped lead the way to that.
The EU heads of state and government talked about strengthening their cooperation on defense and security, as well as how they could work together to boost jobs. The talks also provided a venue for further discussion on how nations could ensure that fewer displaced people undertake dangerous crossings of the Mediterranean Sea to seek refuge in the European Union from poverty, persecution and war in their homelands.
EU’s ‘blind eye’
The EU leaders appeared set to boost their support for Libya’s government as displaced people from southern African nations continue to transit the country en route to seeking more sustainable conditions in the Europe. On Friday, the leaders committed to stepping up their backing for Libya’s coast guard to prevent people from setting out for international waters in makeshift and often unseaworthy boats. As a result of the current policies, almost 1,900 people have died trying to make the perilous Mediterranean crossing so far in 2017.
The human rights group Amnesty International has charged that, with the European Union’s support, Libya’s coast guard plucks people from the sea and returns them to a country where they face detention and possibly torture or rape. EU leaders “are increasing the capacity of the Libyan coast guard while turning a blind eye to the inherent, grave risks of such cooperation,” said Iverna McGowan, the head of Amnesty’s Europe office.
In slightly more domestic news, earlier Friday European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Britain’s proposals to protect EU nationals in the UK after Brexit “not sufficient.” In her first offer on the issue so far, UK Prime Minister Theresa May had outlined her plans to grant the right to permanent residency to an estimated 3 million European citizens already living in Britain after Brexit.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called May’s proposal “particularly vague.” The EU leaders had refused to debate the issue at the summit, saying it remained a matter for the designated Brexit negotiators.
mkg/tj (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)