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  • on 24.05.2017
  • at 12:51 PM
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Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela (European Commission’s spokesperson): “Migration should always be considered in a broader perspective” 0

Brussels – In an interview with Afronline, media partner of #DivertedAid, the investigative project report on of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the European Commission’s spokesperson in charge of development cooperation, Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela, says that “migration should always be considered in a broader perspective”, claiming that “the supports programs of the Fund are fully in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on 13 September 2016 condemning the use of development assistance for migration control, but the EU emergency Trust Fund for Africa is mainly financed with resources from the European Development Fund (2.4 billion of 2.5 total, as decided last year). Why the recommendations of the European Parliament have not been taken into account?

Migration should always be considered in a broader perspective. It is about reinforcing resilience and creating job opportunities. It is about focused skills and vocational training and education. It is about preventing trafficking in human beings, better border management, improved civil registries and about protecting migrants and refugees alike. It is also, whether we like it or not, about returning and reintegrating migrants that do not fulfil the criteria for staying on the territory of another country. And, above all, migration is about human rights and human beings.

Migration and mobility are essential in the global development framework and well-managed migration policies have an important role to play in sustainable development. The successful reintegration of returnees, from Europe and from neighbouring countries, for instance, can make a substantial contribution to long-term development in countries of origin, promoting poverty eradication and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), migration has been recognised as critical when designing development policies, with SDG target 10.7 calling for “well-managed migration policies”, which must encompass all aspects of migration. Support to sustainable reintegration of returnees is also a key area of the joint commitment under the New York Declaration for refugees and migrants adopted at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016.

The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) supports programmes aiming at better migration management which are fully  in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (target 10.7, including affording international protection, offering long-term solutions to displaced people and facilitating safe, dignified and sustainable return of migrants).

Within the framework of the Partnership with countries of origin and transit of migrants, the European Commission envisaged the establishment of a European Fund for Sustainable Development, which should be funded with 750M euro – including 400M from the European Development Fund – to help private investment in countries of origin and transit of migrants. The disbursement of these funds is tied with the cooperation of the governments on migrants’ readmissions and returns. This is not a controversial conditionality, considering that a large part of the GDP of these countries is made up of migrant remittances?

The proposed European External Investment Plan (EIP) provides a coherent overall framework to improve investment in Africa and the Neighbourhood in the long term, in order to promote sustainable investment. It will create conditions for more investments, economic growth and decent job creation in EU partner countries. The underlying objective is to bring more stability and improve conditions on the ground, thereby allowing people to make a living in their countries of origin, as an alternative to risky and unmanaged migration.

Under the proposed European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) Guarantee, investment windows should be established, which should focus on specific geographic or thematic priorities. Windows would target a range of socio-economic sectors and follow a flexible approach as long as major principles (leveraging private sector financing and decent job creation in particular at local level) are respected. The EFSD is only one of the pillars of the EIP, which also focuses on supporting structural reforms and good governance in partner countries. This will be implemented through our policy dialogue, our cooperation instruments and analysis, with strong involvement of our Delegations.

Partnerships have to be based on clear mutual expectations and responsibilities. EU development funding is not conditional on the way countries manage migration – this would not be an effective approach and would not be likely to bring successful results. The EU needs to avoid an unproductive debate on conditionality and offer more partnership and more cooperation – rather than less. Focus is on increasing the coherence between migration and development, to ensure that assistance provided helps partner countries to address the root causes of irregular migration and improve migration management. This is an important part of the EU approach on migration within the Partnership Framework implemented with several partner countries and is seen as key to address the overall migration challenge.

During the investigative work carried out in Niger, #DivertedAid project has collected testimonies from civil society organisations (Alternative Espace Citoyen) and migrants which show that, following the closure by the government of legal routes for the transport of persons, migrants are beginning to follow the illegal routes of drug trafficking and the areas most exposed to terrorism as Gao (Mali), increasing by consequence the risk of accidents in the desert but also of colluding with drug trafficking and terrorism. How do you comment this new issue?

Indeed, new irregular migration routes have recently emerged in Niger. The EU and our partners are monitoring these new routes to respond and adapt as well as possible to this new phenomenon and to the new needs it generates. First of all, let me say that I deeply regret the disastrous conditions and the risks that migrants must take along the way. The EU is doing everything possible to ensure the protection of these migrants.

But let’s also be clear on the language: there are not legal or illegal routes, what is illegal is the smuggling and trafficking of human beings, which smugglers and traffickers are responsible for, not the government of the partner country. The EU is working with partner countries by providing firstly support to partner countries’ judiciary and security sectors, in the fight against the networks of traffickers; secondly protection of migrants; and last but not least support to the population to transform the economic system built around irregular migration into legal economic alternatives.

The Trust Fund for Africa was established by the EU to allow a more rapid intervention on an issue – the management of migration flows – considered by Europe as an emergency. But this is a tool criticized by the European Parliament also because many of these funds are managed by circumventing the European procedure for the approval of the budget (involving Council and Parliament), which is in contrast to the provisions in the Lisbon Treaty. Is it expected in the coming years – after the emergency – that the overcoming of the Trust Fund and the use of tools can ensure compliance with the ordinary procedure?

The Commission has sought to ensure the involvement of the European Parliament before the establishment of all the existing trust funds. In the case of the EU Trust Fund for Africa, the relevant Committee (DEVE) received relevant information on this initiative before its establishment in November 2015. Being a response to an emergency situation, the EUTF for Africa requires the necessary flexibility in terms of the procedures to be applied for the approval of interventions throughout the duration of the Trust Fund.

The operation of the fund is in line with our procedures. EU contributions to the Trust Fund take the form of so called “financing decisions” which are adopted thorough the normal procedure including – where applicable – a formal consultation of the European Parliament. The fund is operated in a transparent way: we publish the list of projects adopted by the Operational Committee of the three windows of the EUTF for Africa; we report on the activities of the fund through an annual report; and the accounts are reviewed each year by the Parliament alongside the Trust Fund Board and the Council.

The Commission is committed to keeping the European Parliament and its relevant Committees involved in the development of the EU Emergency Trust Fund by regularly sharing information and results. Finally, we look forward to seeing the participation of duly designated members of the concerned Committee of the EP in meetings of the Strategic Board of the EUTF for Africa.

Among the actors in charge to implement the projects funded by the Trust Fund, in addition to national cooperation agencies from EU Member States, there is also the French private company CIVIPOL Conseil, for training police forces in the countries of G5-Sahel. How this activity is linked to the fight against poverty, the main objective of the European Development Fund?

The EU Lisbon Treaty prescribes that the “Union development cooperation policy shall have as its primary objective the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty” (Article 208, TFEU). Nonetheless, in line with international trends (see for instance the latest UN Agenda 2030 and the inclusion of Goal 16 among the new Sustainable Development Goals), the EU recognizes clear links between security and development*.

The EU has a wide array of instruments at its disposal to address security and development. Our development cooperation policy and the related political dialogue and mobilisation of various financial instruments are some of these.

As regards in particular the European Development Fund or the EUTF for Africa, support to the security-development nexus may come in various forms, from budget support, to technical assistance, capacity building, as well as the provision of essential equipment and material (with the exclusion of lethal equipment).

Having said this, building and/or strengthening the capacities of internal security forces which have a primarily civilian mandate (i.e., police, gendarmerie, national guard, etc.), are just one facet of the manifold efforts the EU is carrying out to support partner countries to build solid, effective, legitimate, accountable and sustainable security and justice systems, in line with international standards and human rights principles. These efforts contribute to the EU’s overall objective of promoting good governance and, ultimately, sustainable development in the same countries.

The support the EUTF provides in this respect is in most cases done in cooperation with EU Member State agencies, often in cooperation. CIVIPOL Conseil, which has extensive experience and expertise in the security-related domain, is among the operators the EUTF works with. It was established in 2001 as a para-governmental company and consulting and service agency of the French Ministry of Interior. Since then, the latter has resorted to CIVIPOL as logistic and financial operator, especially for the management of twinning projects and grants (European Commission, World Bank, etc.) in the field of homeland security, civil protection and governance.

In 2020, the year of closure of the Trust Fund for Africa, also expires the Cotonou agreement establishing the European Development Fund. It is said that the new architecture of EDF will be adapted to new EU requirements. What are kind of new requirements you have in mind for the next EDF?

The Joint Communication adopted by the Commission on 22 November 2016 indicates various broad options for the future. These are: a) Revised partnership based on the Cotonou Agreement; b) a full regionalisation of relations with ACP countries based on existing regional strategies; c) an “umbrella agreement” with ACP countries combined with separate regional pillars/partnerships with each region. We are still discussing the future cooperation with EU Member States as well as with our partners in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

As indicated in the communication, the “umbrella” is our preferred option as it combines key components of the Cotonou acquis (e.g. regarding the Economic Partnership Agreements / EPAs) with the ability to better take into account the specificities of the respective regions.

It is clear that the new EDF will be adapted to that new political partnership and the regional global priorities, notably the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement as well as the new EU Consensus on Development. The next EDF will be an important instrument of the EU to contribute to these goals in the ACP area.

Finally, decisions on the EDF post-2020 would also have to bear in mind the overall design and structure of the other External Financing Instruments (EFIs) post-2020. The EFIs are currently undergoing a mid-term review (performance review for the EDF) and lessons learned will help inform the future instruments. In parallel to the review, preparations have started for the next set of EFIs (including EDF) post-2020. A public consultation seeking feedback on the post-2020 EFIs is ongoing (until May 2017) and an impact assessment will be launched later in the year.  The indicative date for adopting the proposals for the next set of EFIs is end 2018, however, this date will depend on the timing of the overall MFF proposals.

In the Communication from EC to the Council, the Commission underlines that “a tight and difficult treasury situation is expected for 2016-2017. The reasons include a lower cash balance on the EDF account in 2015 (Contributions called = EUR 3,200 million against Payments EUR 3,210 million), expected quick disbursements for the EUTF Africa and possible increased disbursements for the African Peace Facility”. Will this treasury issue impact negatively on EU aid towards least developed countries?

The ceiling for Member States contributions to the EDF is fixed two years ahead of time. Hence, in 2017, we are working with the ceilings set in in 2015. Since then, Member States have decided upon new activities and the needs have increased. The Commission will manage the EDF treasury very carefully and follow the situation on a day-to-day basis. However, the latest forecast does not foresee any shortage of payment credits and we should be able to perform all planned payments in 2017.

There is an ongoing revision of the Regulation establishing the European Union’s Instrument for Peace and Stability, so that it can finance even the military expenditure in developing countries which were considered eligible in January 2016 by OECD for ODA. This change is not likely to reduce expenditure by EU to fight poverty?

Most of the current expenditure under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace covers activities described by the Development Assistance Criteria (DAC), although it is also possible to cover other activity that is not reported as Official Development Assistance. In theory, 100% of IcSP funds could be spent on activities that do not fall under the DAC. In practice, almost 90% of funding provided under the IcSP qualifies as falling under the DAC and is reported as such. Given the relatively limited amount of the CBSD proposal (100m euro to be added to 2.3bn euro), this revision is not expected to change the trend significantly, or to divert funds from the 0.7% Official Development Assistance objective, which covers poverty reduction.

By Ludovica Jona

This investigation has been funded throuh “The Innovation in Development Reporting Grant Programme” (IDR), a media-funding project operated by the European Journalism Centre (EJC).

Visit the Facebook page of the project.

Picture credit: European Commission.


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