EU-funds for African states: Curbing Migration at any cost

Billions flow to Africa, to stop people from coming to Europe. How much does the EU exactly pay for the border service?

Role models for a new kind of deal: Gaddafi and Berlusconi in 2004 Foto: dpa

At least EUR 2,934 million – that is how much European states and the EU have paid or granted to governments in Africa since the beginning of the millennium to taz calculations to combat irregular migration. In addition, there will be between € 3 billion and € 6 billion, which will flow to Turkey from 2016, as well as another € 7 billion which the EU has promised Africa by 2020.

The goal is always the same: the states should hold or withdraw refugees in the country. It is a difficult task to calculate the amount of funds spent on this. Obviously, there is never a „refugee stop“ on the transfer funds. In any case mostly not.

Such efforts have existed since the beginning of the last decade, mainly for the countries with EU external borders: Italy and Spain. DG RELEX, the then weak EU Directorate-General for Foreign Affairs, hardly appeared. In 2010, however, the EU established its „Foreign Service“. She opened message around message, today the self-confident Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini wants to make foreign policy as if the EU itself was a state. Migrational control is one of the most important projects – any success it can achieve is only too welcome in the European capitals and melts the skepticism of Brussels' foreign policy ambitions.

Vor „dramatischer“ Migration aus Afrika warnt die deutsche Regierung, von einem „Marshallplan“ ist die Rede. Doch die Milliardensummen, die Europa in Afrika ausgeben will, dienen nicht nur dem Kampf gegen Armut. Erklärtes Ziel der neuen EU-Afrikapolitik ist es, Flüchtlinge und Migranten schon tief im Innern des Kontintents aufzuhalten. Die taz berichtet seit Mitte November in einem Rechercheschwerpunkt darüber, zu finden unter taz.de/migcontrol.

Die Recherche wurde gefördert von Fleiß und Mut e. V. (cja)

Whether they come from Brussels, Rome or Madrid – roughly three types of payments are used to control migration.

Spain's Plan Africa

On the one hand, there are those who fall into the area of classical development aid. This can be projects for the modernization of the administration, for the development of a port, education or health infrastructure – nothing to do with border protection. But these can be linked to the condition that refugees are stopped or withdrawn.The most important example was the Spanish „Plan Africa (I + II)“ program from 2004. Between 2004 and 2008, Spain nearly quadrupled its relief money in West Africa. The „Official Development Assistance“, the development aid, rose by 529 per cent in the West African area important for transit migration.

For example, Morocco received a total of 430.2 million euros in development aid from Madrid, Algeria 165.3 million euros, Mali 103.3 million, Cape Verde 67.7 million, Gambia 12.7 million. At the beginning of the crisis, donations gradually declined. All countries had previously had to commit themselves to intensifying their border protection (for further details, see the country reports Spain, Senegal, Mali and Mauritania).

Border posts

Then there are payments that are made directly for infrastructure to build up borders. Federal Ministry of Defense and the Federal Foreign Office, for example, provided money for the „upgrading“ of states in Africa in 2016. Tunisia received 20 million euros, including electronic surveillance on the border with Libya and the training of the border police. In 2017 there will be a further 40 million for Tunisia.

German national police officers form Tunisian border guards, the Bundeswehr sends speedboats and armored trucks. 2017, Germany plans to provide mobile monitoring systems with ground reconnaissance systems. Five night surveillance systems, 25 thermal imaging cameras, 25 optical sensors and five radar systems have already been delivered to Tunisia. The country gets a high-tech border practically free (for further details see the country report Germany and Tunisia).

Italy had already attempted similar efforts in Tunisia starting in 1999, with technical assistance for the border police, initially worth a modest 20 million euros. But it did not stop. The transfer to Tunis became bigger, in 2008 the new Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi concluded the „friendship, partnership and cooperation agreement“ with Gaddafi's Libya. For years, Libya had invoked billions of reparations for Italy's colonial crimes. Italy now met Gaddafi far and said the construction as well as financing a coastal highway from the east to the western border of Libya. For over 20 years, 250 million dollars of Libya should flow annually. 2009 and 2010 the sum could have flowed – then came the revolution.

Finally, there are payments for refugees and migrants to stay where they are. The best example of this is the billions for Turkey. However, this also includes the EU Trust Fund for Africa, which is equipped with around 2.4 billion euros. In November 2015 the EU had already adopted an action plan for cooperation in the refugee crisis at a summit with African states. At the same time, coping with the refugee crisis has become the official target of EU development assistance (see the EU Report on the EU).

Private investment

The planned stimulation of private investment in Africa by the Africa Investment Facility will have a similar effect. The European Investment Fund (EFSI) by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is exemplary. In mid-November, the EU declared that it had invested EUR 154 billion in Europe in just one year by means of cheap, publicly secured EFSI loans – 20 times more than the EU itself had put into the recovery plan.

This is also the case in Africa: the EU wants to devote three billion euros to its development budget, and the member states should do the same. European companies are to invest an impressive 62 billion euros in Africa by 2020, at least in countries bordering on the border. This, according to the hope, will create jobs that ultimately hold the young people in Africa (for more details, see the country report on the EU).

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