European leaders under pressure from a far-right revival at home hoped to avoid a difficult debate about immigration when they met their African counterparts in Ivory Coast on Wednesday.
Reports last month of abuses against African migrants who were reportedly being sold as slaves in Libya have sparked anger across the continent however, threatening to drive migration to the top of the summit agenda and shine a spotlight on an issue fraught with political risk.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, who head the Franco-German axis at the heart of the European Union, would have had their next major political test in mind when they sat down with African Union heads of state.
Italy, on the frontline of the campaign to slow illegal migration to Europe, holds elections early next year and the populist 5-Star Movement is leading opinion polls. The anti-immigrant, eurosceptic Northern League is also gaining support.
“We all have our own interests in not turning this into a migration conference,” one EU official said ahead of the meeting held in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan.
The summit was meant to focus on development, long the cornerstone of EU policy in Africa and tangentially related to migration. The theme of investing in youth, though, was a nod to the rampant unemployment and poverty that drives many young Africans to leave home in search of a better life.
Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2017/12/02/2003683260