The Gambia is among countries that may face visa restrictions from EU nations if the impoverished West African state refuses to accept its migrants deported from Europe.
The EU has proposed a measure against African countries and threatened to deny visas to citizens of these nations on a mass scale. The new rules proposed by the European Council would set stricter entry conditions.
The restrictions may include longer visa processing times, higher costs, fewer exemptions given to visiting diplomats or greater restrictions on the length of time they can stay.
“Readmission of own nationals is an obligation under international law. I cannot understand how a country can refuse to take back its nationals,” EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said.
“We will introduce stricter conditions for processing visas when a partner country does not cooperate sufficiently on the readmission of irregular migrants.”
The Gambia has the third largest arrivals in Europe by sea, journeying across the Sahara and crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe, mostly for better economic opportunities.
Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast are also cooperating very little with deportation orders and the EU says it will fight to have consular passes to illegal migrants returned, urging African countries to cooperate or risk undermining ties.
The Gambia and many African nations rely heavily on EU development aid. More than a three-quarter of Gambia’s aid and budgetary support comes from the EU. It came to Gambia’s aid and saved its economy from insolvency following its rocky political transition.