The European Union launched a €1.9bn ($2bn) fund on Thursday to tackle migration from Africa, yet the bloc struggled to impress recipient countries, who said too much of the summit focused on sending Africans back home.
The new trust fund, presented at a Euro-African summit in Malta, is focused on long-term solutions, such as poverty eradication, conflict resolution and economic development. However, pledges fell short of expectations.
The plan was to have a €3.6bn pot, with €1.8bn coming from the central EU budget – which was provided – and the rest from national governments, which only came up with €78.2m.
“For the Africa Trust Fund and our response to be credible, I want to see more member states contributing and matching the €1.8bn the EU has put forward,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
“We need more support,” Senegalese President Macky Sall said, also taking issue with EU demands that African countries take back failed asylum seekers and other migrants who do not have a legal right to stay in Europe.
“Europe is insisting too much on this aspect,” Sall said, protesting it was “discriminatory” to expel Africans while keeping Syrian refugees. He also noted that most migrants to Europe do not come from his continent.
According to the European Asylum Support Office, the top five areas of origin for the more than 1 million asylum seekers registered in EU states in January-September were Syria, the Western Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
Later on Thursday, EU leaders were due to hold separate talks expected to focus on the attempt to stem migration flows from Turkey, which has become the main transit country for Europe-bound refugees.
EU countries are struggling to stay united as they deal with the biggest migration inflow since World War II. On Wednesday Sweden said it was reintroducing temporary border controls, while Slovenia announced it would erect a fence on its Croatian frontier.