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21st May 2022

Valletta leak backs legal migration and returns

  • Some 140,000 people landed in Italy after crossing the Mediterranean to seek asylum this year (Photo: iom.int)

Africa and EU leaders are set to sign off a plan next week that includes short-term measures on legal migration and returns.

The latest draft summit conclusions, dated Friday (6 November) and seen by this website, include policies around development, legal migration, asylum, migrant smuggling, and readmission.

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The final conclusions will be issued following a summit next week in Malta’s capital city Valletta.

Some 90 delegations are attending the two-day meeting, including over 30 heads of state from Africa and most of the 28 EU member states.

“Rekindling hope, notably for the African youth, must be our paramount objective," notes the adjoining political statement.

African states are pushing for more legal migration to the EU. But the EU wants readmission agreements implemented and irregular migration curbed.

The broad declaration gives a nod to both.

On legal migration, it notes “efforts should be made to advance legal migration and mobility possibilities."

The summit conclusion lists two short-term legal migration projects that should be concluded before the end of 2016.

It says the number of scholarships to the EU should be doubled and also calls for the launch of pilot projects on legal migration.

On returns, the political statement gives a hard line.

“Irregular migrants who are not in need of international protection must be effectively returned to their countries of origin,” it states.

It notes “improved cooperation on return” will make in turn improve migration and mobility policy.

The plan is to send “in the first quarter of 2016” immigration officials from 10 African countries (not listed) to Europe to return people. It also says projects in origin countries should be launched to reintegrate them back into society.

Meanwhile, four short-term projects are listed under the development heading.

They include creating jobs in regions of origin and transit of migrants, linking relief, rehabilitation and development, working with remittances, and boosting African agriculture.

On asylum and international protection, it says Regional Development and Protection Programmes in the Horn of Africa and North Africa should be up and running by mid-2016.

The Horn of Africa programme, geared towards Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea, is spearheaded by the Netherlands.

Some of the money will be taken from the European Commission’s directorate for home affairs. The Commission says the money will be used to register, process, and accommodate asylum seekers.

Another short-term project involves improving the “resilience, safety and self-reliance of refugees” in camps and host communities.

On migrant smuggling, the plan is to set up single national contact points and strengthen “institutional capacities to fight against the smuggling of migrants” in countries of origin and transit.

It also requests setting up a joint investigation team in Niger and launching an “information campaign” about the dangers of migrant smuggling.

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