Posted on March 11, 2024

Brussels to Pay Mauritania for Stopping Europe-Bound Migrants

Laura Dubois, Financial Times, March 6, 2024

The EU is expected to seal a €210mn agreement with Mauritania on Thursday that includes funds to reduce irregular migration towards Europe, despite serious concerns over human rights violations.

The deal is the latest in a series of EU efforts to co-operate with African countries to clamp down on immigration and is modelled on a controversial agreement with Tunisia that Brussels struck last year, drawing widespread condemnation.

Some €60mn will be explicitly dedicated to migration management, according to people briefed on the matter, including supporting the Mauritanian authorities to better patrol its waters and stop migrant boats from embarking on the more than 1,000km journey via the Atlantic towards the Canary Islands, which are Spanish territory. The rest of the funding will go to different areas such as security, economic development or humanitarian aid.

Politicians and activists fear by replicating the agreement with Tunisia, the EU will bolster the regime of Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, who heads an autocratic government that still tolerates certain forms of slavery, according to Human Rights Watch.


In the first two months of 2024, almost 12,000 people arrived on the Canary Islands by boat, according to the Spanish interior ministry, compared to fewer than 2,000 in the same period last year. Mauritania currently hosts about 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers, many coming from Mali, according to the UN refugee agency.