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News blog6 June 2021Directorate-General for Communication

Partnerships are core of the Pact on Migration and Asylum, Libyan migratory and humanitarian situation among top priorities

Migration can’t be managed without cooperation with the countries outside the EU. That is why I keep an intense travel plan to neighbouring countries for discussions on how to prevent irregular migration, develop more legal pathways and partnership arrangements.

More than 13 000 migrants arrived in Italy this year, nearly 9,000 from Libya and over 3,000 from Tunisia. Most of them came on dangerous routes on the Mediterranean Sea, arranged by human smugglers.

Some didn’t make it. They became part of the tragic numbers of drownings at sea.

This was at the top of the agenda when I visited Tunisia just recently together with Italian Minister of Interior Luciana Lamorgese. Fighting smugglers, support for Tunisian economy, job opportunities for young people and surveillance of the border at sea was part of the discussion with Tunisian President Kais Saied and Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi.

In the framework of the Pact on migration and asylum, I’ve made a number of similar visits to partner countries, and more will come. The Pact on Migration and Asylum identifies the development and reinforcement of strong, tailor-made and mutually beneficial partnerships with countries of origin and transit, as one of its core objectives.

Last year in December, I travelled to Morocco together with Commissioner Varhelyi.  I am now preparing  the follow-up on our visit with the launch of an overarching migration and security dialogue.

In August I visited Tunisia for the first time and in September Mauritania together with Italian Ministers Di Maio, Lamorgese and Spanish Minister Grande-Marlaska respectively.

On 7 of May I was in Turkey to reiterate that the EU-Turkey Statement remains valid and should continue to be fully implemented. The EU is delivering on its commitments in the Statement and I stressed that Turkey needs to resume return operations from the Greek Islands and continue preventing irregular departure from its territory, including the emergence of new routes towards Cyprus and Italy. At the same time, it is important to recognise that Turkey hosts more than 4 million refugees who need support. These needs will not go away. This is why the EU stands ready to continue providing support to Turkey and the refugees there.

These external efforts with partners will be discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 7 June and will inform discussions between European leaders at the next EU Council meeting on 24 June.

Later this month, I will visit Serbia where I will meet the Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior and the Minister for European Integration. I intend to visit the Frontex operation at the Serbia-Bulgarian border, which is expected to start as of 16 June. This will be my second visit to the region, after my meetings in Albania and in Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier this year where I discussed how to step up our cooperation on migration, including on improving the conditions for migrants and refugees.

Last, but not least, addressing the migratory and humanitarian situation in Libya remains a top priority for us, and will be discussed on my visit there. Together with Member States we support Libya’s new National Unity Government tasked with taking the country to elections next December after 10 years of conflict, as well as cooperating on topics such as protection, migration management and security.

Important elements

Our foreseen reinforced partnerships with neighbouring countries will have a number of important elements.

  • First, we will continue providing support to partner countries to host and improve the protection of refugees and people in need of international protection.
  • Second, we intend to contribute to addressing the root causes of irregular migration, with a special emphasis on providing support to create economic opportunities for young people.
  • We will also seek to provide assistance to enhance the migration governance and management capacity of our partners. For example, to combat migrant smuggling, we will seek to develop counter smuggling partnerships with the aim to strengthen law enforcement and judicial cooperation in this area. We will also continue our awareness-raising campaigns to inform individuals about avenues for legal migration and the risks of migrant smuggling.
  • Furthermore, we are stepping up our engagement with our partners on cooperation on return of those who have no right to stay in the EU, readmission and reintegration.
  • Finally, we will support the development of well-managed legal migration, which we consider an essential part of migration management.
  • To achieve these ambitious objectives, the EU and its Member States will act in unity, bringing together a wide range of policy and financing tools in areas such as development cooperation, investment, trade, employment, visa policy, education and research.
Blog Johansson

Our work in progress

  • We have already started working. The recent conference organised by the Portuguese Presidency with North African countries on managing migratory flows brought concrete results on strengthening our cooperation in view of preventing irregular migration, combatting migrant smuggling reinforcing border management and creating legal pathways. Building upon the results of the counter-smuggling conference hosted by Italy last July with North African countries, we will also soon propose an EU action plan against migrant smuggling.
  • Moreover, we have recently put forward a new Voluntary Return and Reintegration Strategy, in order to support voluntary returns and build partner countries’ capacities and ownership in this area.
  • An important initiative in the Pact is the development of Talent Partnerships with partner countries. The aim is to provide a framework to mobilise EU and Member States’ tools for cooperation with partner countries on legal migration and mobility, building on and scaling up what we have already developed in the last years, for example the pilot projects on legal migration.
  • The High Level Launch Event on Talent Partnerships in coming week will provide an opportunity for discussions amongst Member States but also with social and economic partners and other relevant stakeholders.
  • To support our ambitious agenda, and in the spirit of the New Pact’s objective to mobilise all our relevant policy and financial instruments to advance cooperation on migration, our financial programming is in full swing. The new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI) foresees significant funding for migration assistance outside of the EU with a proposed target of 10%. This will mean that a total of eight billion euros will be available for the EU’s external migration assistance during the next seven years.


For more information

New Pact on Migration and Asylum | European Commission (

Opening statement at EU Member States and African Partners conference on countering smuggling. | European Commission (

New EU strategy on voluntary return and reintegration (

EU-Turkey statement, 18 March 2016 - Consilium (

Other sources

Commissioner Johansson’s visit to Morocco: EU wants to improve migration cooperation with Morocco –

Commissioner Johansson’s most recent visit to Tunisia in May: Italy, EU vow to support Tunisia's economy to stem migration (

Commissioner Johansson’s visit to Bosnia: EU Commissioner Johansson visits refugee camp in Bosnia | DW News - latest news and breaking stories | DW | 19.02.2021 & EU commissioner tells Bosnia to manage migration better –




Publication date
6 June 2021
Directorate-General for Communication