EU-Africa – Migration ‘Action Plan’

A new ‘aid-for-cooperation’ deal is agreed to stem increasing migration, although many unanswered questions remain.

Recently, on November 11th, the European Union (EU) hosted a two day summit in Malta, with representatives from African nations, aimed at coming to an “understanding” on how to best to address the causes of increasing migration to Europe. The negotiations led to an aid-for-cooperation deal on November 12th; a US$1.9bn plan to combat poverty in Africa while also accelerating repatriation of failed asylum-seekers.

Particular focus was on Turkey, as estimates suggest that the majority of migrants in 2015 travelled to Europe through Turkey, reported AFP.  President of the European Commission (ECJean-Claude Juncker said they would offer Euro (€) 500m to Turkey and urged member states to come up with a further €2.5bn euros to help Turkey cope with millions of asylum seekers.

The 14-page joint EU-African strategy on migration is divided into five sections including development, legal migration and mobility, and international protection and asylum. The final two sections cover cooperation on reducing irregular migration and smuggling, and boosting returns and readmissions.

In return for aid Europe want Africa to take back its citizens who try to enter the EU illegally and do not quality for international protection. Currently, if migrants destroy their identity documents return orders from European countries can often not be completed.

Valerie Ceccherini of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told IRIN: “the tougher return policy is coming from Europe, it is not coming from the Africans; they don’t want this.”


(adapted from UN/Frontex)

Meanwhile IRIN news agency provide some important critical points, asking “Are European leaders forcing their own migration agenda on Africa? Why are they conflating development aid with migration policy? What is wrong with introducing more safe and legal migration routes?”

Oxfam International Migration Expert Sara Tesorieri said that there are many unanswered questions about the new trust fund’s dual focus on migration and development. Countries who contribute to the fund want to have a say in how the money is spent, which may be at odds with the national government in the African country.

“What will the money be used for: fighting poverty or increasing border security? Where will it be spent: in the poorest areas, or areas that are considered of strategic interest to Europe, meaning along the migratory routes…We would like to see a clear division between development and non-development funding and projects,” she said.

Iverna McGowan of Amnesty International said that one North African country was rumoured to have been urged to sign an agreement on migration cooperation in return for a reduced tariff on food imports: “so it’s ‘sign the agreement and you will get a better deal on food'”, reported IRIN.

While the recent summit represents an important moment in multiple stakeholder negotiations on the issue, it may be some way from addressing some of the primary root causes of poverty and inequality, and could throw up more questions and unintended consequences.

The EU-Africa Migration Action Plan

– EU to provide initial €1.8bn ($1.9bn) to a new Emergency Trust Fund to support projects aimed at reducing migrant flows from Africa to Europe and displacement of people within Africa

– Future development cooperation to focus on projects to reduce migratory pressures: including fostering jobs and economic growth, a scheme to reduce the development impact of remittances by cutting transfer costs and joint research on the causes of migration.

– Opportunities for legal migration to be “promoted”. A number of EU-funded scholarships for African students and academics.

– New programmes to be set up by end-2016 to increase protection and economic opportunities of displaced people.

– Increased cooperation on combating illegal immigration and people trafficking, including creation of joint investigative team as a pilot project in key transit country Niger.

– Repatriation of failed asylum seekers to be accelerated. At least 10 African countries agreed to help European states identify illegal immigrants without official documents. (© AFP 12/11 2015)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

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Vol.52, Issue.5, Pp.20586B–20587B

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