President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday, within the framework of bilateral consultations between European and African leaders, aimed at tackling illegal migration to Europe.
In the statement issued at the end of his visit, Avramopoulos referred to illegal migration as a "common challenge," that requires a joint "strategic approach," as regional instability bears security consequences for both Egypt and the European Union. According to the Commissioner, his discussion with President Sisi was focused on ways to enhance bilateral cooperation to tackle those threats, as well as to "deal with the dramatic conditions of people, who embark on dangerous journeys to escape wars, seek international protection or simply look for a better life." The Commissioner also stressed that EU wishes to strengthen its cooperation with Egypt in the field of security, especially with regard to combating jihadist ideology and the influx of extremists joining the ranks of Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
According to Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef, Avramopoulos expressed his appreciation for the Egyptian efforts in fighting terrorism as well as illegal immigration. He added that the European Union aims to strengthen its ties with all its Southern neighbours, especially in view of the European Agenda on Migration, which is due to be announced in the coming days.
In recent years, the EU has held a number of bilateral Dialogues on Migration and Mobility, resulting in Mobility Partnerships with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. A similar dialogue with Lebanon is ongoing, in addition to the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative, also known as the Khartoum process.
According to UN estimates, as many as 1,800 migrants might have perished this year while crossing the Mediterranean. Shocked by the recent disaster off the coast of Libya, in which as many as 900 people may have died when a large boat capsized due to overcrowding, European Union leaders agreed to triple the funding for the sea patrol mission Triton. However, the EU countries have not yet come to an agreement with regard to the fate of migrants who arrive on European coasts.
In recent days, around 7,000 migrants were rescued from overcrowded boats by the Italian navy.