Spain is calling for more help from the European Union to stop boatloads of Africans from trying to enter the country illegally. Desperate to escape poverty, more than 18,000 people, mostly west Africans, have made it to the Canary Islands so far this year – more than three times last year’s total. Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, started her bid for greater support in Finland, which holds the rotating EU presidency. Following talks with Finnish leaders she said Madrid does not need more money after receiving in excess of ten million euros already from the EU. “It’s a question of implementing more effective measures”, she added.
Brussels has promised to supply Madrid with two EU boats, two aircraft and a handful of experts for a nine-week mission. But experts claim this will have little if any deterrent effect. The aid is less than half of what Spain asked for in May, but EU officials says further immediate assistance is unlikely. Spain also wants to meet the EU’s other Mediterranean basin states next week to study how to reinforce control of their maritime borders.