Friday

30th Oct 2020

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"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.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

Analysis

'Sponsored returns' may shuffle failed asylum seekers around EU

The European Commission is banking on cooperation and coordination among EU states to help makes its new migration and asylum pact viable. But its plan is already being greeted with suspicion by more hardline anti-migrant countries like Austria and Hungary.

Analysis

Between the lines, Europe's new Moria unfolds

A new five-day screening of migrants at Europe's external borders is meant to expedite people into either 'asylum' or 'return' tracks. The time-limit is wishful thinking and one that could leave people stranded in make-shift camps or even ghettos.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us