EU migration policy in Adrica: Between Aid and Paternalism

Three cities stand for EU migration policy in Africa: Rabat, Karthum and Valetta. Those were the places of negotiations about money and readmission.

Merkel und Mahama im Gespräch

Angela Merkel and Ghanas president John Dramani Mahama in Valetta Foto: dpa

It all began in Rabat. In July 2006, the EU and Africa Ministers responsible for migration and development met in the Moroccan capital to discuss a common refugee policy. Emphasis was on border management, the integration of irregular migration and refugee protection.

The „Euro-African Dialogue“ on migration and development, as the Federal Government calls it, is a decisive factor for the states of ECOWAS. Fair and balanced should be the dialogue, migration was seen as an opportunity for social and economic development – at least on paper.

The „Overall Approach to Migration and Mobility“ (GAMM), adopted in 2011, which sets the framework for the external dimension of the EU's migration policy, pointed in another direction: the curbing of irregular migration.

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

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

The same is true of the so-called Karthum process, which was launched in Rome at a successor conference to Rabat in late 2014. It has a different regional focus; This time the countries of the Horn of Africa were in the forefront. But here, too, the main focus is on laying trappings and taming the refugee routes to Europe.

„Good governance“

The EU is based on authoritarian regimes and „failed states“. The non-governmental organization „Human Rights Watch“ therefore reported serious concerns as early as 2015, since the foreclosure could also take people who fled ethnic or political persecution in their countries of origin. The EU should not blindly help countries such as Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, but should ensure that their governments do not produce more refugees, warns HRW Director Judith Sunderland.

The EU Commission in Brussels replies that it is also concerned with „good governance“ and respect for human rights. „We need to deal with the hardships of the dramatic living conditions of people who risk their lives to find a better future,“ said EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Federica Mogherini at the start of the Karthum trial in Rome. „But we also need to look at the causes of irregular migration: poverty, conflict, lack of resources.“

Between 2004 and 2014, according to the Commission, more than EUR 1 billion has been invested in more than 400 projects on development and migration, half of which go to Africa. This makes the EU a world leader in this field. However, it is not always clear whether the focus is on development aid or paternalism. Recent doubts are emerging. Given the refugee crisis in the Aegean and the Balkans in 2015, the EU has focused even more on the control and defense of „irregular“ migration.

Vage Versprechen

In the autumn of 2015 a separate EU-Africa summit took place in Valletta on the Mediterranean island of Malta. The summit went back to an initiative of Chancellor Angela Merkel. As demanded by Merkel, he concentrated on the „fight against smuggling criminality and causes of fugitives“ as well as on the „return of refugees“. To this end, the projects launched in Rabat and Khartoum should be intensified and linked with the EU-Africa dialogue.

In addition, a „Nothilfetrustfond für Afrika“ was launched, which was initially endowed with € 1.8 billion by the EU Commission and the budgets of development cooperation. Germany contributed modestly three million euros from national funds, and all 28 EU countries combined only 82 million. The money is meant to help promote „stability“ in Africa – through the creation of jobs and the safeguarding of the basic supply of food, but also through an improved „migration management“ and „conflict prevention“.

A year later the record is sobering. Although the fund has now grown to 2.5 billion euros. However, up to now 64 projects have been allocated only one billion. The promises made in Valletta were „vague“, many projects still await their implementation, criticizes the Dutch development expert Bob Van Dillen.

Valletta is also seen as an intermediate stage on the road to the most comprehensive migration control possible. Therefore, it is not only working on a second Valletta summit to be held in early 2017. In addition, the implementation of the various programs and targets is to be accelerated and deepened through so-called migration partnerships.

A first deal has just been signed with Mali; Next, the EU wants to focus on Niger. But in these countries, the limits of the new Africa strategy are also evident. For Niger and Mali are shaken by terror and war, which provoke continually new escape movements. In Mali the EU is therefore deployed with a military training mission, in Niger with a civil-military training mission for the local security forces. Because both countries are still vulnerable (and dangerous), the deployments have been extended until 2018. Only then could the situation stabilize.

Nevertheless, the European Commission is taking a positive view. Thus, the number of migrants migrating from Niger through the desert to the north fell from 70,000 in May to 1,500 in November. In addition, 102 tugs were imprisoned by the judiciary and 95 vehicles seized. The number of repatriations from Europe has also increased. „Niger is our greatest success story,“ experts from the EU Commission are pleased.

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