AEDH
European Association for the defence of Human Rights - Association européenne pour la défense des Droits de l'Homme

The very exterior dimension of the European migration policy

   The Valletta Summit on migration – 11-12 November

The EU’s message: Keep the migrants and refugees far from the European borders!

The 11 and 12 November a “summit” between European and African States has been held in Valetta (Malta). The declared objective was to find solutions to the crisis and to stem the migratory flows. Besides the 28 EU Member States and Island, Norway and Switzerland, Member States of the Schengen zone and parties of the Khartoum and Rabat Process, 34 African States, in particular those from the Horn of Africa, and several international and regional organisations (UNHCR, IOM, etc.) participated in the summit.

 

The spirit of this meeting has been reminded by Ambassador Pierre Vimont, personal envoy of Donald Tusk, president of the European Council:

 

  1. Reconfirm the ongoing actions and principles defined beforehand, in particular the EU-Africa Roadmap which has been adopted in 2014, but is not operational yet.

 

  1. Rapidly implement the decisions taken during the summit through existing processes (European Development Fund, European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), with a budget of 15.4 billion euros for the period 2014-2020, etc.).

 

  1. Decide on concrete operational measures.

 

The outcome of the summit is a common declaration and a plan of action articulated around 5 core points: migration-development nexus, asylum, fight against irregular immigration, readmission and legal migration.

 

è The five priorities of the Action Plan

 

1. Development of the benefits of migration and addressing root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement

Under this section the partners highlight the existing link between migration and cooperation on development.

The European States reconfirmed their commitment to the cooperation on development, insisting on the eradication of poverty, as well as pointing out the positive effects of migration on economic growth. In particular diaspora networks and remittances play an important role. Additionally, they reiterated their support for the strengthening of the rule of law and good practices in the region as well as the necessary reinforcement of security and the fight against terrorist threats.

 

2. Legal migration and mobility

The EU has committed to promote regular channels for migration and to facilitate the conditions of entry and residence, in particular for students and researchers, but also for certain “professionals” – still to be identified – and the SMEs. In pursuing this objective, the European Heads of State and Government committed themselves to continue the negotiations on the facilitation of short-stay visa – and on readmission! – as well as to further implement the decisions taken within the framework of the Rabat and Khartoum processes.

 

3. Protection and asylum

The signatory parties have agreed to “reinforce the protection of refugees and other displaced persons, uphold the human rights of all migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, support the integration of long term refugees and displaced persons in host communities and strengthen capacities of countries of first asylum, transit and destination”.

More concretely, the approach is to “enhance(…) capacities in priority regions along the main migratory routes, with a view to developing possible pilot projects, in cooperation with UNHCR”.

They also remind the necessity to “support EU, African and global resettlement efforts for refugees and increase the legal avenues available to persons in need of protection, both bilaterally and through multilateral structures (in particular UNHCR and IOM)”.

 

To this end, the Commission announced that the “Regional Development and Protection Programmes in the Horn of Africa and North Africa should be up and running by mid-2016. Their objective is “to address the protection and developmental needs of people suffering long-term displacement and their host communities”.

 

 

4. Prevention of and fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings

Under this point measures to face the phenomena of the so called irregular migration, are being specified. Among others, it proposes measures to facilitate the exchange of information, in particular between European and African police forces and judicial authorities, as well as measures to improve border management systems on a regional and national level and to step up the necessary cooperation between these authorities.

Against this backdrop, France has developed a pilot project for a multi-purpose centre in Agadez (Niger). This centre aims at “ensuring provision of direct assistance and information to migrants, registration of migrants, as well as providing opportunities for safe and voluntary return and reintegration in cooperation with countries of origin”.

 

5. Return, readmission and reintegration

The editors of the action plan decided to defer the following on the 9th paragraph of the final declaration of the summit in Valletta: “We are determined to strengthen the fight against irregular migration in line with existing agreements and obligations under international law, as well as mutually agreed arrangements on return and readmission. We agree to give preference to voluntary return and reaffirm that all returns must be carried out in full respect of human rights and human dignity. We will improve cooperation on return and sustainable reintegration which can only enhance migration and mobility policy and make it more effective and comprehensive”.

 

Thus it is planned to “strengthen cooperation in order to facilitate the return and sustainable reintegration of irregular migrants, both from EU Member States and associated countries and from African countries of transit and destination”. They also include references to the respect of the readmission agreements concluded between the EU and certain States present in Valletta and laid down in article 13 of the Cotonou Agreement.

 

On the one hand, with regard to the “returns”, the resistance coming from certain African states has led to highlight their “voluntary” nature (as opposed to forced returns). On the other hand, the EU States insisted on the cooperation with third countries in order to help to “identify” displaced people within a return procedure, in order to insure its efficiency and swiftness. By contrast, the EU’s intention to use European laissez-passer (ELP) was not included in the action plan.

 

See the Action Plan in [FR], [EN]

See the political declaration in [FR], [EN]

 

è A trust fund of 1.8 billion euros

This summit has also been the occasion to reconfirm the commitments taken during the Council meeting of the 23 September: An Emergency Trust Fund “for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa” of 1.8 billion euros has been launched. This sum has to be mobilised by the European States.

The Commission estimates that this is an “innovative way how the EU is stepping up its collective response to current challenges on the ground”. This tool will help “the most fragile and vulnerable countries across Africa”, in particular in the Sahel and the lake Chad region, as well as the Corn of Africa and North Africa which cover the main African migration routes towards Europe.

See the European Commission’s press release in [FR], [EN]

Better cooperation with third countries in order to keep migrants and refugees far away from European borders… This is the brief summary of some of the objectives as well as some of the conclusions of the European-African summit in Malta. Civil society organisation – meticulously kept away of the preparation and the realisation of the summit – were not mistaken in expressing their concerns about this new “plan”.  Undoubtedly, behind the convoluted and complex statements of the final declaration and the Action Plan, the European Union envisaged to engage African countries in its fight against the so called irregular migration.

Not being able to turn back all the people which are crossing its borders, the EU attempts to keep them the furthest possible from its territory. This is the approach summarized in Valletta under the “concept of enhanced capacities in priority regions along the main migratory routes” which was already included in the Khartoum process.

Knowing that internal migrants in West Africa account for more than 8.4 million people, one can measure the possible role played by the multi-purpose centre in Agadez: deter and retain future migrants.

It seems that in Malta, the EU did not completely succeed in its strategy “more for more” which is usually used in the construction of partnerships with third countries. Certainly the EU launched a call for the full respect of readmission agreements, but in return it put into perspective certain visa liberalizations. Some African representatives did not hesitate to highlight that the EU’s success in the fight against irregular migration will be low when it is not accompanied by the opening of legal migration channels. In addition, a big majority of the African states has rejected the principle of forced return… The European laissez-passer in order to facilitate returns was not even mentioned in the Action Plan.

In respect to the financial commitments given by the EU Member States, it is questionable if they will serve for development purposes and the protection of the rights of migrants – see the doubts recently expressed by the UN (see below).

 

Kept apart from the “summit”, several African and European civil society organisations, amongst them AEDH, expressed their concerns that the agreements concluded in Valletta are the continuation of a security approach in the management of migration and borders.

 

See below certain reactions of the civil society and the African Union

 

African Union: Valletta Migration Summit: No part of the world can be a fortress. We should be open to legal migration: 13 November 2015. In [EN]  

Joint declaration by civil society associations:Human rights at the core of migration policies: An urgent call to European and African leaders”; 10 November 2015. In [FR], [EN]

 

ECRE: Valetta summit: EU and Africa commit to prevent irregular migration but support legal mobility: 13 November 2015. In [EN]

 

OXFAM: Valletta migration summit must not be hijacked by EU border agenda: 11 November 2015. In [EN]

Valletta: Africa Trust Fund must help people, not build barriers; 12 November 2015. In [EN

Amnesty International: EU-Africa Summit in Valletta must not dress up border control as ‘co-operation’; 10 November 2015. In [EN]  

Centre européen de gestion des politiques de développement : Podcast

 

See below certain reactions of the press

 

Toute l’Europe : A La Valette, l’UE négocie des financements contre la gestion extérieure des migrants ; 13 novembre 2015. In [FR]

 

AfrOnline the voice of Africa: EU-Africa: Valletta, the summit of dissent. 30 October 2015. In [EN]  

 

Times of Malta: “Live commentary: Valletta summit sounds warning on Schengen, provides aid to Africa”. 12. November 2015. In [EN]  

 

EUObserver: “Sudan wants EU to pay for Libya border crackdown”. 12. November 2015. In [EN]   

 

Huffington Post: “Valletta: Farming Out Europe’s Dirty Work”. 11. November 2015. In [EN]  

 

 ◊ A common agenda on migration and mobility with Ethiopia

In parallel with the Valletta summit, the European Union and Ethiopia signed a joint Declaration for a “Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility” (CAMM).

M. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission highlighted that “Ethiopia [was] the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, accommodating over 733,000 refugees. Its Government needs and deserves EU support. Ethiopia is also a country of origin and transit for irregular migration to Europe. We need to work together to better manage these flows in full respect of human rights. Ethiopian authorities have shown a commitment to tackling human trafficking and people smuggling, which is a positive sign for our further cooperation through this Common Agenda. This step is part of the much broader relationship we are trying to build together”.

The two parties have agreed to collaborate on issues regarding the needs of refugees and international protection, legal migration and mobility, irregular migration, smuggling and trafficking in human beings and the policy on development. For the implementation of this agenda Ethiopia needs 1.8 billion euros from the emergency fund.

See the European Commission’s press release in [FR], [EN]

 ◊  Where goes the development aid ?

The 11 November Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary general of the UN, appeals to the Northern European States to face the “refugee crisis” “without lessening its commitment to vitally needed official development assistance”. He is particularly concerned that States could be tempted to use development funds for the assistance to refugees. Therefore he insists that “resources for one area should not come at the expense of another”.

This urgent appeal could be a result of the concern expressed by the Commissions last July that most of the Member States don’t fulfill their commitment to spend 0,7 % of their GNI.

See the press release of the secretary general of the UN



Only African States with whom the EU already has established a partnership, in particular the States party to the Khartoum process (Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia) and to the Rabat process (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leon, Gambia, Togo, Tunisia).

4th EU-Africa summit on the 2-3 April 2014 : Final declaration and roadmap in [FR“>2][3] As a reminder, 22’000 resettlement places have been included into the Commission’s plan proposed last Mai.

[4] At the close of the summit their commitment will reach 78.2 million euros.

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