Monday

29th May 2017

EU hails first result in Africa migration deals

  • Agadez, in Niger, is a "laboratory" of the EU mirgation policy in Africa. (Photo: Joris-Jan van den Boom)

The European Commission said on Tuesday (18 October) that it was happy with the first results of partnerships signed with five African countries this year to reduce migration flows to Europe.

Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal are the countries that the EU chose in June as testing ground for its new policy of engaging Africa over migration.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We are starting to see the very first operational results on ground," the EU high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini told journalists while presenting an assessment report.


She said that transit of migrants was decreasing in Niger, for instance, and that work was ongoing in Mali and Senegal to improve the civil registry system. She also said that in Ethiopia the EU was promoting employment opportunities for refugees and local communities.

She said networks of smugglers were being dismantled and that returns of migrants to their original countries were on the rise.

Some 24 programmes will have been launched by the end of the year in the five countries, for a total of €425 million funded by the EU Africa Trust Fund, which was created last year.

The so-called Partnership Framework is part of the EU's global response to manage migration flows and try to solve reasons why people go to Europe - mainly war and poverty.


Summit recognition

EU leaders at a summit later this week will recall the "importance" of the plan.

They will say that the objective is "specific and measurable results" in preventing illegal migration and returning irregular migrants, according to draft conclusions seen by EUobserver.

They will task Mogherini with another assessment report in December to see whether other countries can be included in the scheme.

"Most of member states will expect results in December," a senior EU official said, adding that "at the end of day, the measure of success will be the rate of returns."

Once the EU has judged that "the approach is the right one and it brings satisfactory results for us and our partners, we could consider other countries," the EU diplomacy chief said Tuesday.

The EU on Monday also adopted so-called compacts with Lebanon and Jordan to support them in hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The two countries could be later included in the Partnership Framework, Mogherini said.

She ruled out such an agreement with Libya where the majority of migrants crossing the central Mediterranean come from, because of the current security turmoil there.

She also said that an agreement with Egypt was "not considered at the moment" despite calls for inclusion by countries including Germany.

Despite the positive message she tried to convey, Mogherini admitted that there was "no quick fix," and that her work was "about laying ground for more results to come in future."

The report itself notes that "the pace of progress with the five existing priority countries is different, as different as their economic, social and political context."

Pace of progress

With Nigeria, Africa's most populated country, the EU will start talks on a readmission agreement at the end of the month. The report says progress is needed for improve cooperation on the ground on readmission and the fight against smugglers.

In Ethiopia, Mogherini said that the political situation was "worrying", after a state of emergency was recently declared amid unrest.

The country, as the EU report points out, is "a key country of origin and transit of migrants from the Horn of Africa, and hosts the largest refugee community in Africa." A worsening of the situation could have consequences on EU plans in the region.

For now, the most visible success of the plan is in Agadez, in Niger, described as "a central hub for tens of thousands of irregular migrants trying to reach the Mediterranean and Europe, mostly via Libya."

With a permanent EU presence in the town and a cooperation with authorities and the International Organisation for Migration, voluntary returns of migrants to their country of origin has gone up from 1,700 last year to more than 3,500 between January and August this year.

"Agadez is a very important laboratory, a test case for possible replication in other areas," an EU official said.

EU seeks migration deal with African states

Focus on migration is shifting towards stopping flows from Africa with plans to cut deals with handful of origin countries before the end of the year.

EU buries migration dispute for now

This week's EU summit will take no new decision on how to manage the migration crisis. But differences of approach remain between member states.

Opinion

EU migration policy is cruel and nonsensical

The EU is signing deals with rights-violating states who agree to take back migrants, which will aggravate poverty and conflict and undermine the bloc's strategic goals.

Opinion

How to monitor the EU's new border security strategy

EU compliance with adequate human rights standards, the principle of non-refoulement and fair access to asylum procedures needs to be reviewed through new guidelines and mechanisms.

Opinion

Development serving the purpose of migration control

While the EU is sacrificing development aid to serve short-term migration interests, it is important to realise that enhanced border controls will not solve the root causes of forced migration and displacement.

Italian refugee centre allegedly run by mafia

One of Italy's most powerful mafia syndicates, the 'Ndrangheta, allegedly stole over €32 million from a refugee centre run by a Catholic charity in southern Italy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms