Immigration: visas, expulsions … we explain why France is toughening up its tone with the Maghreb countries

the essential France will halve the number of visas granted to nationals of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. How is this sudden decision explained? What will the new criteria be? And how are the three Maghreb countries reacting?

The French government has decided to tackle the migration problem head-on. He thus announced that fewer visas would be granted to nationals of Maghreb countries. The executive promises to halve the number of visas issued to nationals of Algeria and Morocco and to reduce the number of visas by 29% for Tunisians compared to 2020.

Why is France toughening up its tone?

When France expels a national, it must obtain the agreement of its country of origin, which must provide a consular laissez-passer. However, the Maghreb countries refuse to give this agreement. “Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia refuse to issue the consular passes necessary for the return of immigrants returned from France,” railed government spokesman Gabril Attal on Europe 1 Tuesday morning After several months of patience – negotiations have been going on since the adoption of the “Asylum and Immigration” law in 2018 – France raised its tone. “There was a dialogue, then there were threats. Today, we are putting this threat into action, “added Gabriel Attal.

How many immigrants have been deported this year?

Since the beginning of the year 2020, France wanted to deport 3301 people to Algeria. They were subject to an obligation to leave French territory (OQTF). However, Algeria has only granted 31 consular passes. And in reality only 10 Algerian nationals left France. That is to say an execution rate of 0.3%. For Morocco, 3301 OQTF were pronounced. Only 31 people left French territory (2.4%). With regard to Tunisia, the Ministry of the Interior identifies 9424 OQTF and 100 effective evictions (4%).

To read also: Where is immigration in France? 5 digits to see more clearly

How will visas be granted?

The Ministry of the Interior did not give a precise indication on this subject. “The idea is to make one visa out of two”, specified the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanon on BFMTV this Wednesday morning. “We will do it on a case by case basis. It will depend on the relationship we have with these countries.” Gérald Darmanin adds that “the Maghreb states do not want to return to the situation before Covid. This is why we are raising the tone”

How are the Maghreb countries reacting?

Morocco has taken note of an “unjustified” decision which “does not reflect reality”. Algeria for its part “takes note of a disproportionate decision” which it “deplores”. Wednesday 27 September, the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the French Ambassador to Algeria to protest against the decision of Paris to reduce the number of visas granted to Algerian nationals, according to an official statement. Tunisia, where academic Najla Bouden is due to form a new government after President Kais Saied’s coup, has not reacted officially.

France’s decisions come in a tense diplomatic context. Relations with Algeria remain complicated because of the memory issue. At the beginning of September, Emmanuel Macron had asked “forgiveness” from the harkis for France’s attitude towards them.

Relations with Morocco are not in good shape as a result of the Pegasus affair, named after cell phone spy software that Morocco allegedly used. Rabat denied.

To read also: “Project Pegasus”: 4 questions to understand the global Israeli spyware scandal

To make matters worse, Algeria broke off its relations with Morocco on 22 last August following the normalization of Morocco’s relations with Israel.

Does this affair hide an electoral strategy?

Whatever the government spokesperson says, France is hardening its position seven months before the presidential election. It was announced the day Marine le Pen, the candidate of the National Rally, presented her draft referendum on immigration and when the polemicist Eric Zemmour – not officially a candidate – exceeds the 10% of voting intentions in the presidential election. “We are in an electoral campaign. There is a race to the right,” said Béatrice Hibou, research director at the CNRS and specialist in Morocco. “Tensions around migration policies, there have always been. But they are managed diplomatically, without much publicity,” she continues, describing the announcement as “shocking” and “electoral”.

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