Migration and interior ministers from five European Union countries most affected by migration across the Mediterranean — Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain — have hailed a new EU pact on migration but said more resources were needed.
The ministers from the Med 5 group, who met in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Oct. 6 and 7, took a hard line on returning migrants who have crossed into the bloc illegally to their countries of origin, arguing that if Europe does not tackle the problem decisively, more extreme voices will take over.
Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Dimitris Kairidis, who hosted the sixth meeting of the Med 5, and European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas congratulated the Spanish presidency of the EU for “doing what is humanly possible” to arrive at a compromise agreement.
The Med 5 agreed on taking a hard line on migrant crossings but also emphasized cooperation with the countries of migration origin.
Agreements are already in progress with Tunisia, Egypt and some western African countries, Schinas said, adding the EU should also revisit its 2016 deal with Türkiye.
Under that agreement, the EU offered Türkiye up to 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in aid for the Syrian refugees it hosts, fast-tracked EU membership and other incentives to stop Europe-bound migrants.
The Med 5 ministers called for an additional 2 billion euros to deal with migration. Most of the current EU budget was spent on accommodating Ukrainian refugees and tackling migrant flows through the EU’s external border with Belarus, they said.