Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the European Union to agree to a migrant deal with Egypt and other nations in Africa and the Middle East to curb illegal migration to Europe, modeled on the agreement reached with Turkey in March.
“We want to complete agreements with North Africa and with African states as quickly as possible,” Ms. Merkel said on Saturday after a summit of nations along the so-called Balkan route used by more than 1 million migrants last year. “People who can’t remain in Europe from a humanitarian point of view will be returned to their home country.”
The chancellor said a deal with Egypt was the priority right now. “A deal like the one we have with Turkey must now be worked out with Egypt,” she said. “We want to combat illegality and promote legality.”
The deal between the E.U. and Turkey provided Turkey with billions of euros in financial assistance in return for taking back illegal refugees who had made their way across the Aegean Sea to E.U. member Greece. Since then the number of migrants has fallen sharply.
Ms. Merkel, under intense pressure at home due to the influx of refugees, has not abandoned her open-door policy but made a significant switch in tone last week, dropping her “we’ll manage it” mantra, saying her government had made mistakes and expressing regret that Germany had not been better prepared for the numbers of refugees who entered the country last year.