Article written

  • on 05.03.2015
  • at 07:43 PM
  • by evelina

EU ready to cooperate in Africa with “dictatorial regimes” to tackle migration 0

Yesterday, the European Commission launched work on a comprehensive Agenda on Migration to be announced in May (rather than in June as it was earlier predicted). The EU Commissioners held a first debate to step up the EU’s efforts in implementing the existing tools and improving cooperation amongst European countries in managing migration flows from third countries. This happened in the context of at least 10 people being reported dead after a migrant boat sank off the Sicilian coast.

For the first time, managing migration more effectively is an explicit priority of the European Commission. The Commissioners acknowledged that proper migration management is a challenge for Europe as a whole, but also declared that they intend to set common priorities and pool more resources at both EU and national levels in order to achieve real solidarity and a better sharing of responsibility amongst Member States. This announcement was particularly appreciated by Members of the European Parliament representing Mediterranean countries – those that are most affected by migration flows.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans declared that “In May we will present a new EU migration agenda with an improved governance system to strengthen our asylum systems, set a sound course for legal migration, act more vigorously against irregular migration and ensure more secure borders.” High Representative Vice-President Federica Mogherini stressed that “We need to be effective, as Europeans, with the immediate response to migration and at the same time; we must address the root causes of the problem, starting from the crises spreading across our borders, especially out of Libya.”

According to the Commission and Frontex, there were about 278.000 irregular border crossings in 2014, – twice as many as in 2011. Many of these migrants use smugglers and are often taken advantage of by such traffickers/smugglers.

The commission believes that if the problem of human smuggling is to be tackled, targeting priority countries and routes, in close collaboration with African countries, is crucial. Utilizing existing readmission agreements and cooperation frameworks such as the Rabat, Khartoum or Budapest Processes is also important.

As highlighted by Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU is prepared to do everything that it can in dealing with this issue. “We’re not naive. And the fact that we cooperate in the framework of the Khartoum and Rabat process with dictatorial regimes, does not mean we give them legitimacy. But we have to cooperate in the field where we have decided to combat smuggling and trafficking.” he stated.

Yet it will not be easy. Many African countries have already expressed concerns, if not open hostility to the EU approach. Firstly, security concerns are still prevailing over development, which is the one of the most important conditions in deterring migration. Secondly, the burden represented by internal migration flows between African countries is as heavy as that of African migrants coming to Europe. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), “as of March 2013, there were over 9 million refugees and internally displaced persons in East Africa and the Horn of Africa”.

In addition, it is also important to note that South-South migration flows remain significant. The Nairobi-based Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) states that in “in 2014, more than 91,000 migrants from the Horn of Africa crossed the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden arriving in Yemen – a 40 per cent increase from the 65,319 arrivals in 2013”.

by Afronline


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