Europe needs immigration to drive its economy as its population ages. It should be more welcoming to migrants heading north from Africa through regular channels, while setting up an effective return policy for irregular arrivals and tackling the criminal networks that traffic in human beings, the latest Debating Africa-EU online event heard Thursday.
“Migration is nothing to be scared about. Migration is something normal. Migration has always been there. Migration will always be there, and we need migration,” (15:40)
said Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs.
“We need labour migration, including circular migration, not only for highly skilled workers but also for medium- and low-skilled workers … and we need resettlement for those in need of international protection,” (18:12) she added.
Johansson joined other commissioners from the European Union and African Union for the latest in the series of online debates bringing in business figures, civil society, youth representatives and other key stakeholders from both continents. Their ideas are feeding into the consultation exercise in response to ‘Comprehensive Strategy with Africa’, released earlier this year.
Speakers recognised the clear link between migration and good governance. Bad governance holds back economic and social development and is a major push factor for African emigration.
“Good governance and rule of law, really they help us to create fair economies, but also fair societies,” (3:01),” said Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships. “They make people feel safe and heard and trusted. They also bring in investors … they open debate and encourage innovative thinking.”
The EU is increasingly linking support for good governance to its international assistance, but European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders acknowledged that Europe needs to get its own house in order and tackle rule of law problems in some EU member states.
“We need to do the job at home, if we want to have a certain level of credibility in speaking about rule of law and all those kinds of issues,” (48:16) Reynders told the debate. “There is a real job to do in the European Union before (we can) be credible outside.”
From the African Union, Commissioner for Political Affairs Minata Samate Cessouma emphasised the progress Africa is making to fight corruption, improve governance and consolidate democracy through ‘African solutions to African problems’.
The strengthening partnership with Europe is helping Africa achieve those aims. “I can only reaffirm our commitment to deepen relations with the European Union,” (1:09:10) Samate Cessouma said. “We believe firmly that we should work together as partners to contribute to address the challenges we have about democracy (and) governance in general.”
As Africa and Europe seek to re-set their partnership, Friends of Europe is engaging with our partners across both continents to understand the long-term vision and the converging and diverging priorities at the heart of this new cooperation.
Africa and Europe have a shared interest and much to gain from one another in accelerating the progress of the global agenda for sustainable development whilst working together to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through its “Debating Africa-EU” series, Friends of Europe is focused on engaging its partners and the new EU College of Commissioners around their vision and priorities for EU-Africa cooperation. In response to the Joint Communication Towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa, this series serves as a consultative exercise for key stakeholders and partners from both continents to voice their perspectives on the future of the relationship. Following the first four discussions in the series, the fifth ‘In Conversation With’ takes place on the 1st of October 2020 with Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Minata Samate Cessouma, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, and Amira Elfadil, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs (tbc).The strategic focus of the discussion will be on “Migration, Mobility and Good Governance in the Africa-EU partnership”.
Past Event Recordings
- Debating Africa-EU – Health, welfare and prosperity: an EU-Africa partnership for a people-centred approach to human development
- Debating Africa-EU – A new era of digital cooperation: embracing Africa and Europe’s 4th Industrial Revolution
- Debating Africa-EU – Creating a mutually beneficial partnership for Africa-Europe: Building a greener and fairer future
- Debating Africa-EU – The Next Generation of Africa Europe Relations, with Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen
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Good governance, human mobility and migration remain key issues when it comes to building people-to-people cooperation across Africa and Europe. Strong institutions and the rule of law, are also among the most crucial factors in eradicating poverty and are essential for Africa to deliver on its Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals. The damage caused by Covid-19 and its impact on the most vulnerable, call for the EU and Africa to review and further strengthen cooperation in a more strategic and tailored way, based on mutual commitments, accountability and ownership. Despite the misconceptions present in some debates in Europe, the overwhelming majority of African migrants move within Africa, mostly along rural-urban lines. The challenge for many African states is how to make use of the enormous opportunity provided by intra-continental mobility, through integrated, pan-Africanist thinking whilst ensuring that these processes happen in safe and secure ways. Focus also needs to be placed on refugees and asylum seekers across Africa, to create long-term solutions for forced migration that allows people to rebuild their lives. With a more holistic approach, embedding migration into every aspect of the Strategy with Africa, comes the view that it is a natural part of human development – one which creates opportunities for both Africa and Europe. The newly presented Communication on a New Pact on Migration and Asylum confirms that migration is central to the EU’s overall relationships with key partner countries of origin and transit. Both the EU and its partners have their own interests and tools to act. Comprehensive, balanced and tailor-made partnerships, can deliver mutual benefits, in the economy, sustainable development, education and skills, stability and security, and relations with diaspora.
As outlined in the Joint Communication, Towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa, strengthening the capacity of institutions and the rule of law, will be necessary pre-requisites to bolster empowered, mobile and connected societies, however, it will be equally important to support credible, inclusive, and transparent initiatives which reinforce civil society organisations and enhance the promotion of universal human rights. Accountability and transparency of public institutions, independent and impartial justice systems; transnational crimes and trafficking of human beings; corruption and illicit financial flows, are among many of the challenges that both continents can work on to leverage and strengthen their partnership. Can Africa and the EU develop an integrated and cooperative approach to human mobility, governance, democracy, and the rule of law to strengthen democratic, peaceful and inclusive societies?
Questions to be discussed include:
- Does the proposed EU Strategy with Africa enable both continents to optimise their cooperation on migration and mobility, good governance, democracy and the rule of law?
- What steps can be put in place to improve the safety of legal migration routes? How can Europe work with Africa to reduce ‘push’ factors that force people to attempt dangerous crossings of the Mediterranean?
- What are the tools required to promote accountability and transparency across all areas of governance to achieve well-functioning democratic processes that improve access to basic services and quality of life? Can both continents collaborate to identify and support initiatives that have the ability to strengthen these objectives?
European Commissioner for International Partnerships
European Commissioner for Home Affairs
European Commissioner for Justice
Minata Samate Cessouma
African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs
Director, Asia, Peace, Security & Defense, Digital & Chief spokesperson
Ylva Johansson was appointed European Commissioner for Home Affairs in December 2019, taking up the position following years of service in the Swedish government. Having most recently served as Swedish Minister for Employment and Integration from 2014-2019, she previously held positions as Minister for Health and Elderly Care and Minister for Schools. A former teacher, Johansson has also served as a Member of the Swedish Parliament.
Within his mandate as EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders is responsible for ensuring the upholding of the rule of law across the Commissions portfolio including the digital transformation, the green transition as well as the rights of SME and consumer empowerment and protection. The full implementation and enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation and its global outreach is part of these efforts. A lawyer by training, Didier has more than 20 years of political experience. He formerly served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, as well as Minister for Defence, Foreign Affairs, and Finance.
Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Dharmendra Kanani was director of policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). He was the England director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. Dharmendra has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sector and advisor to numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.
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