The EU’s ‘take-back’ agreements with Africa – a useful tool to curb irregular migration?

The number of migrants entering the EU irregularly via the central Mediterranean route has increased substantially over the past five years. In the first half of 2017, Italy received more than 80,000 migrants, mostly coming from Africa. Public pressure on the EU and the Italian government to curb these irregular flows has grown and has led politicians to succumb to the contestable solution of cooperating with dubious partners in Libya to prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean onto EU territory. Gerald Knaus, Chairman of the European Stability Initiative (ESI) and architect of the EU-Turkey agreement, presented the ESI's alternative proposal to address irregular migration. The proposal calls for two concrete policy solutions: first, to implement fast and fair asylum procedures in Italy based on the Dutch asylum model, and second, to open up more legal pathways for African migrants to the EU in return for functioning readmission agreements with African countries of origin.