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Backgrounder: Europe Confers with Africa as Migration Pressure Keeps Mounting

  • November 21st, 2006
  • Posted by 7thmin

eu-flag-reduced.png(This report is archived under EUAustralia, Investigations).

Problems over the mass migration of people into Europe are to be tackled at a meeting of representatives from European and African countries this week (22-23.11.06) at Tripoli, in Libya.

Senior managers from the European Commission, at Brussels, have outlined strategies for managing continuing migration pressure from Africa over the coming decades.

They told journalists, 20.11.06, exploding population in Africa would not find enough jobs despite all efforts at economic development, while the population of Europe would continue to contract – meaning strong impetus for people to want to migrate.

An aspect was clandestine migration, with North African countries like Libya and Morocco already unable to cope on their own with large numbers of people moving North into their territory.

The European Union had funded successful moves by Morocco to stop movements across its Southern border, after the crisis in recent years, with large numbers trying to get into Spanish enclaves on the Morocccan coast.

The EU was now supporting Libya, with some funding, equipment and expertise, to more effectively control its Southern border, with Niger.

However all emphasis was being put on a broad-based package, intended to reduce problems with migration in the short to middle-term.

It would co-ordinate initiatives in all the relevant fields of government activity where the European Commission was running programs, to include economic development assistance, external relations, health and conflict resolution.

This would be completed in collaboration with African governments, which had already been pressing for broad-based solutions; for example, while accepting intervention against human distress in camps set up for borderer-crossers, they were seeking help also for Africans within Europe, such as support for family reunion, and support for students at EU universities.

Special efforts were being given to generating gainful employment for Africans not seeking to migrate to Europe:through contributing to investment in labour-intensive new industries; assisting mobility of workers within their home countries and among different countries in Africa; and in regulating seasonal employment of Africans in Europe.

The European Commission has held out good prospects for orderly problem-solving and regulation of migration, without denying its intention to handle immediate problems with people on the move.

European authorities were committed to protecting their own borders, and engaging in police work against human trafficking across frontiers.

Responses are classed as: action against clandestine migration; best-practice management of arrivals and claims for asylum; emphasis on supporting and facilitating legal migration; and assistance to countries of origin of migrants.

The gathering of country representatives this week is seen as the beginning of a large-scale co-ordinated program.

EC officials disclosed that to date EU40-million (A$ 66.55, Dcerates) had been committed directly to work on the migration issue; and further budgets could be put into place, once there was a “legal framework” – resulting from agreement with the African states.

A large European Return Fund has been projected to finance resettlement programs for returning migrants, at a possible cost of EU 676-million (A$ 1.125-billion) over five years.

In the meantime Southern European countries have faced a rush of immigrants this year, most arriving by sea in open boats, especially thousands making a dangerous sea voyage from the African coast to the Canary Islands – part of Spain.

Leaders of Spain, Italy and Greece sought support for sharing the burden of border patrol operations with other EU governments, at the October summit of European Heads of Government – far from the scene of the trouble, in the Finnish town of Lahti.

Estimates agree on at least 25 000 people arriving at the Canary Islands in the first nine months of 2006, more than a five-fold increase over the year before; in the same period a further 48 000 have been detained, arriving by sea or land, in Greece, Italy and Malta; (Council of Europe figures quoted by New Europe, 12-18.11.06).

Attendance at the Tripoli conference this week:

Member states of the African Union (53 countries, taking in all African countries except Mauritania and Morocco), Morocco and Western Sahara (RASD), the 25 member countries of the European Union, together with Bulgaria, Iceland, Norway, Romania and Switzerland.

Development of inter-continental consultations:

• September 2005, European Summit at Hampton Court endorses responses to challenges of immigration, including consultation with countries of origin and transit, especially North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

• December 2005, European Council adopts as its policy formula, the Global Approach to migration.

• December 2005, EU-Africa Ministerial Troika meeting in Bamako, capital of Mali.

• April 2006, meeting of EU and AU experts, preparation for Ministerial conferencing.

• July 2006, Ministerial meeting on migration and development, at Rabat, Morocco.

• October 2006, EDU-Africa Ministerial Troika meeting, Brazzaville, Congo.


The EU meets the entire African continent in Tripoli to launch a partnership on migration and development, MEMO/06/437; European Commission, Brussels, 20.11.06.

Briefing officers from the European Commission:

Peter A. Bosch, Head of Sector, Unit Immigration and Asylum, Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security

Philippe Darmuzey, Head of Unit, Panafrican Issues and Institutions, Governance and Migration, Directorate-General for Development

Leonello Gabricci, Head of Unit, Maghreb, Directorate-General for Development

(This report is archived under EUAustralia, Investigations).