Africa and Europe in Partnership African and European senior officials met in Brussels for three days of intense discussions, to shape the future direction and actions of the Africa-EU Migration Mobility and Employment (MME) Partnership.
The Senior Officials MME Meeting, held in Brussels from 15 to 17 September, gathered delegations from 62 African and European countries, as well as migration experts and representatives from regional economic communities, civil society and international organisations. The African Union Commission (AUC) and European Commission (EC), the guardians of the Partnership, tasked the 180 participants with appraising the achievements of the Partnership, and fine tuning the new draft action plan for the years 2011-2013, set to be endorsed at the Heads of States summit in Sirte in November 2010.
The new action plan sets out two core processes, which steered the discussions of the meeting: an inclusive political dialogue on MME issues, and a number of concrete initiatives, which work towards realising the goals of the Partnership at the regional and continental level.
Reinforce the political dialogue on migration, mobility and employment
As the meeting commenced, participants were reminded of the unique opportunity the Partnership provides to engage in continent to continent political dialogue, on their primary migration, mobility and employment concerns. They were called on to intensify the political dialogue, work in coordination and for realistic objectives, and show strong leadership. ‘We have to be ambitious and need to strike a balance between ambition and realism. (…) The partnership provides a unique opportunity. In order to advance we need to coordinate our view(s) which requires an intensification of our political dialogue. The partnership will only work if the two partners work in coordination. We need leadership’, spoke Mr Manuel Larrotcha, Senior Counsellor in the Spanish Ministry of Cooperation and Foreign Affairs, and Co-Chair at the opening of the meeting.
Dr. Maiyegun, AUC Director for Social Affairs, further framed the deliberations, by emphasising the need to build synergies between the diverse policies and strategies that the Partnership touches on: ‘The challenge before us today is finding the answers of how to enhance coherence and synergies between migration, employment, education policies and development and poverty reduction strategies. Most importantly, these outcomes of our consultation need to add value to what is already going on at the national and regional level, and should have a clear inter-regional dimension.’
The meeting was structured around three working groups: Diaspora and migrants’ rights; Mobility, visa issues, regular migration and employment; and Trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants, during which participants explored these topics through the presentations of African and European experts. Plenary sessions followed, which reviewed the draft action plan and its initiatives on the basis of the contributions of the working groups.
The Diaspora working group appealed for a greater role for the diaspora in the Partnership, as a development actor. Consequently a cooperation framework will be developed, which will serve to promote the role of diaspora organisations in the EU, build their capacity, and facilitate the transfer of skills and knowledge to the African continent. In addition stakeholders agreed to deepen their dialogue on human rights, including social, economic and cultural rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
The Mobility working group expressed interest in visa issues, and the dialogue process will henceforth pay specific attention to conditions and procedures for visa delivery, and factors which advance mobility. The Dakar workshop on employment, social protection and decent work in Africa (30/06/10- 02/07/10) informed discussions on employment, which centred on strategies and initiatives geared towards job creation, sustainable growth and social protection.
The human trafficking working group recommended an emboldened focus on partnership in fighting human trafficking, as well as pull factors which contribute to human trafficking, such as sex tourism and cheap labour. Overall a stronger focus on international protection, specifically in the context of asylum seekers, refugees, and internally displaced persons, who are vulnerable to human trafficking, was sought.
Furthermore key projects which have emerged within the framework of the partnership, were shared with participants and contributed to discussions on the principles of the Partnership and their manifestation in the action plan and its initiatives. These projects included the AU.COMMIT (African Union Commission Initiative Against Trafficking), which strives to curb the supply and demand side of human trafficking, and the EU immigration portal, which provides easily accessible information on legal migration to and in the EU.
Identify and implement concrete initiatives
The new draft action plan (2011-2013) proposes twelve concrete initiatives, which aim to provide significant responses to migration, mobility and employment challenges to the benefit of all partners. Participants showed great interest in the African Remittances Institute, which will work for better, safer and faster remittances transfers, whilst catering for the specific needs and context of the African countries it serves.
The ACP Observatory on Migration enjoyed a strong focus, and will create a network of researchers and research centres that provide policy makers, civil society and the public at large, with reliable and harmonised migration data.
Furthermore the development and implementation of regional action plans that strengthen protection as well as prevention and prosecution of human trafficking, in countries of origin, transfer and destination, stood out as a pivotal initiative. The African Guarantee Fund, which supports small and medium sized enterprises, was welcomed by participants. Participants discussed the relevance of the inclusion of the Fund in the action plan considering its current governance structure and geographic scope.
The new draft action plan (2011-2013) also contains the following initiatives:
- A MME Support Project which provides a framework for consultations and sustains the dialogue process, through workshops, meetings, information exchanges and capacity building .
- The Diaspora Outreach Initiative will engage the diaspora in the development of Africa.
- A Decent Work Initiative aims to expand social protection, particularly in the informal economy.
- The Labour Market Governance and Capacity Building Initiative is set to build the institutional capacity of labour market institutions in Africa.
- Regional and Sub-Regional Fora on Employment, Labour Social Protection and Labour Migration will broaden consultation with all stakeholders, for better functioning of the labour market.
- The Nyerere Programme Initiative will fund students exchanges between African universities.
- The Pan-African University will build a regional network of African universities.
- The Africa Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning Initiative will review the implementation of the AU harmonisation strategy at the regional and continental level.
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