Euro-African Conference in Paris on migration and development

The second Euro-African Ministerial Conference on migration and development, during which the African and European partners took note of the reinforcement of the dialogue in the context of the Rabat process and the existence of a Euro-African consensus on a global approach to migration was held yesterday in France, Paris.

They are also expected to commit themselves further to developing a genuinely operational relationship by adopting a multi-annual cooperation programme to ensure balanced and concerted management of migration in West Africa. The European Commission supports the Euro-African dialogue on migration and development, and will continue to act as a driving force in ensuring that it takes the form of cooperation initiatives.

The Paris Conference forms part of the process launched in Rabat in July 2006 at the first Euro-African Conference on migration and development. The Rabat process brings together the European Union Member States and the West African states, and is a unique and innovative example of regional cooperation in the field of migration between countries of origin, transit and destination on a given migration route.

Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for migration, said: “We have made significant progress: the Euro-African dialogue on migration is now a reality. We must now focus on practical action for our commitment to be credible”.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood policy added: “I am convinced of the significance of the approach of shared responsibility between the countries of origin, transit and destination as well as the need to engage in a strong and balanced dialogue on the entirety of the relevant questions on the management of the migratory flux. The North-African neighbourhood countries are interested in visa facilitation as well as the prospects for temporary legal migration, but the European Union also has expectations in the field of readmission and international protection.”

The Euro-African dialogue on migration, which only a few years ago did not even exist, is now under way at regional level in the context of the Rabat process, at continental level through the dialogue started in 2007 following the Lisbon Summit between the European Union and the African Union, and also at bilateral level, through relations between the European Union Member States and the African countries. The European Union is eager to promote these various levels of dialogue which it considers should be frank and open, and based on concertation and the reconciliation of reciprocal interests.

The Paris Conference is proof of the way views on migration have changed. While the European Union urges its African partners to pursue a responsible policy on the prevention and reduction of illegal migration and on the fulfilment of readmission obligations, this is only one aspect of a global migration policy which also targets better organisation of legal migration and promotion of the link between migration and development in the interests of the country of origin. This global approach to migration is now upheld by both Europe and Africa, despite the difference in their situations and their dissimilar experiences and perceptions of migration.

The commitments made by both Africans and Europeans are now taking the form of various cooperation initiatives. The European Commission, which in the past three years has launched over one hundred migration projects in Africa, is acting as a driving force. For instance, it supports the establishment of information and migration management centres in Africa such as the one in Mali; it contributes to capacity-building in African countries to help them manage migration; it promotes increased cooperation, in particular on legal migration, through mobility partnerships and by organising specific migration and development initiatives. It also focuses on promoting respect for human dignity and the protection of the most vulnerable.

The Paris Conference and the Cooperation Programme to be adopted at it offer the European and African partners an opportunity to confirm their political commitment to work together on migration issues along the entire West African route. If full use is to be made of this opportunity, all government partners will have to mobilise in order to come up with the necessary resources to achieve the joint work programme.

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