European Union leaders pledged to increase investments in Africa to assist development and help stem the arrival of thousands of migrants who are desperate to flee poverty.
Speaking at a gathering of heads of states of the continents in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, Abidjan, European Council President Donald Tusk said Wednesday the bloc was “ready to do more” to create jobs and economic opportunities for Africa and its people.
“We have to be ambitious,” Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, said at the same gathering. “There needs to be a true Marshall Plan for Africa.”
The two-day meeting in Ivory Coast takes place as the EU plans to make 8 billion euros ($9.5 billion) available to improve migration control from the Middle East and Africa. In September, the European Parliament adopted a separate 4.1 billion euro plan for Africa that’s meant to generate 44 billion euro in investment and address root causes of migration.
Solutions to Africa’s problems “require significant financial resources, much more than what African resources alone can afford,” Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said. “Our appeal will be for the growth of investments from Europe, public and private.”
Europe is grappling to stem the biggest wave of asylum seekers since World War II, as anxiety over the issue is stoking populism and drives electoral gains by far-right parties from France to Hungary.
The plight of African migrants was highlighted this month by videos of what the International Organization for Migration described as slave markets in Libya, scenes that are dominating the summit’s talks.
Leaders and officials of the EU, AU and United Nations met Wednesday with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa Al-Sarraj to find solutions for this “atrocious and unbearable situation,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters.
Libya agreed to allow access to its territory for the parties to evacuate the camps “where these barbaric scenes” have been identified and to speed up the repatriation of migrants to their countries of origin, he said.
Governments across the two continents will reinforce cooperation to dismantle trafficking networks and their funding mechanisms while the EU may help to pay for the repatriation of migrants to their countries of origin.
A lasting solution to illegal migration will require that Libya solve its political crisis, Macron said. “It is indispensable to reconstitute a durable state and a political balance as part of the roadmap that has been decided,” he said.