Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on October 20 that his country would give a further 500 000 euro to help bolster the Trust Fund for Africa, set up for steps to discourage illegal migration.
Borissov was attending a meeting of the European Council of heads of state and government, where migration was among key agenda items.
Estimates are that the fund needs to be boosted by about 125 million, raised from pledges from among EU countries.
Earlier, European Council President Donald Tusk said that EU leaders had agreed to offer stronger support for Italy’s work with the Libyan authorities.
“We have a real chance of closing the Central Mediterranean route,” Tusk said.
“That is why we decided that member states will provide sufficient finances for the North Africa window of the Trust Fund for Africa, while the Commission ensures that this money is channelled to stem illegal migration,” he said.
Tusk told reporters: “We should see concrete results within the next few weeks”.
EU leaders agreed that their “comprehensive, pragmatic and resolute” migration strategy, which aims to restore control of external borders and to reduce arrivals and the number of deaths at sea, was bringing results and should be consolidated.
At the same time they highlighted the need for vigilance on all migration routes and readiness to react to any new trends and developments.
The summit called for further action, including support for directly affected EU countries strong co-operation with countries of origin and transit, including with Turkeyand the Western Balkans, further efforts to increase returns, and applying the necessary leverage by means of EU policies, such as trade or development, to improve return rates and prevent illegal migration.
EU leaders also reaffirmed their support for the Schengen system. They said they would get “Back to Schengen” as soon as possible, taking into account security interests of EU countries.
They also pledged to continue talks on the reform of the Dublin system at their summit in December, with a view of reaching a consensus in the first half of 2018.
Illegal arrivals decreased by almost 70 per cent on the Central Mediterranean route in the third quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, thanks to the efforts of the EU and its member states, especially Italy, a European Council statement said.
At the summit the EU leaders called for further efforts, including working with Libya and its neighbours to boost border controls and support local communities along the migratory routes in Libya, increased efforts to establish a permanent EU presence in Libya, and providing adequate and targeted funding for migration-related projects in North Africa.