Europe pledged to spend €6 billion in Turkey to keep refugees on the other side of the border. Some have suggested spending a similar amount in Africa. POLITICO asked Europes leading migration experts and policymakers: If the EU had €6 billion to spend on managing migration from Africa, how and where should the bloc spend it?
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Think beyond the money
Dimitris Avramopoulos is European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship.
Europes engagement with third countries is not about money. Those who think you can put a figure on a relationship woefully underestimate the significance and intricacy of such partnerships.
For some time now, we have called for greater engagement with our partners in Africa and the Middle East — and the collective political will is finally there. The goal of the European Commissions External Investment Plan is to leverage up to €44 billion in investment by 2020, and increase our external funding to reach up to €123 billion for 2021-2027.
Refugee or migration crises will not be solved by humanitarian aid alone.
We need long-term, sustainable alliances with our key partners — and with Africa in particular. For these to be meaningful, our cooperation should go beyond migration, as it is a consequence of much broader shared challenges including geopolitical instability, demographic developments, climate change and socio-economic issues.
Every such alliance must place partners on equal footing and be based on mutual trust. It should also be tailored to the specific context of the partners. Turkish authorities, for example, were never promised and never received €6 billion; the money went to international organizations on the ground that dealt directly with refugees. The EU has offered similar financial and humanitarian support to those displaced around the world, such as in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, South Sudan and Kenya, to name a few.
But refugee or migration crises will not be solved by humanitarian aid alone. And that is why the EU wants to step up its engagement and foster true alliances with third-country partners, to work toward a more stable and prosperous shared future for all.
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Dont forget to protect the borders
Theo Francken is Belgiums secretary of state for asylum and migration.
I am a big supporter of more direct European economic support to Africa, both in the form of development aid and investments from major European corporations.
The money should be used to stimulate economic growth and employment, in order to boost the buying power of the African population. We should fund projects to enforce the rule of law — including respect for property rights of smallholders and small entrepreneurs — and support investment banks that issue micro-credits. Europe should also endorse NGOs that give courses in family planning to curb Africas population explosion, and help finance major infrastructure projects so as to limit transaction costs, which are currently so high that it discourages direct investment in large parts of the continent.
We need to help Africa get its motor running. But it is wrong to assume that this would lower the migration pressure on Europe from Africa in the short term.
Initially, economic growth will fuel emigration, as it enables more people to embark on the expensive journey to Europe. The pressure to emigrate will only fade when nations reach the level of “upper-middle income country,” at which point they undergo a “migration transition” and become immigration countries themselves. That transition is still nowhere near.
We need an investment plan for Africa. But that should not distract us from the duty of border protection through solid migration deals with Northern African states.
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Prepare migrants for work in Europe
Michael Clemens is co-director of migration, displacement and humanitarian policy and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.
Europe should invest in creating skills among potential migrants in Africa — specific skills that the EU needs. This is a long-term investment, alongside (not instead of) more traditional and short-term measures such as helping poor countries create jobs and helping third countries host asylum seekers.
The simple reality is that no amount of financial assistance can stop migration. Indeed, over the longer term, poor countries that develop successfully will exhibit more emigration, not less.
This happens for many complex reasons, including the demographic changes that accompany development success. Migration pressure will rise with 800 million new sub-Saharan African workers by 2050. This is not a sign of Africas failure but of its success in sharply reducing child mortality, including with foreign assistance.
John Osadebawen, a Nigerian refugee, works at a bakery in Germany | Thomas Niedermuller/Getty Images
In the long run, foreign assistance can shape future migration in ways that are much more beneficial to Europe and Africa. Funding can help set up training programs that give potential migrants the job and language skills they need to integrate quickly and contribute maximally in Europe, such as in nursing or hospitality work. Carrying out such training before they migrate sharply reduces the cost and helps migrants hit the ground running.
Many Africans will migrate to Europe. The only question is whether they will arrive with valued skills or not. The time to begin building those skills is now. If EU aid retains its exclusive focus on stopping migration, it will exacerbate the migration problems of tomorrow.
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Use existing structures
António Vitorino is the director general of the International Organization for Migration
My starting point would be to ask: “What happens when the €6 billion runs out?”
Improving the governance of migration and managing flows is not only a question of spending, but of long-term investing in strengthening partnerships and existing global frameworks. Rather than short-term migration fixes — which I fear are often based precariously on shifting geopolitical sands — we need to go for longer-term structural solutions rooted in genuine partnerships and existing international frameworks.
We are convinced that donors could achieve greater impact by leveraging foreign aid to shape migration for mutual benefit.
We already have in place several key agreements targeting these challenges from a position of strength afforded by regional and international cooperation. These include the Global Compact for Migration, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Valletta Declaration, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Lets strengthen these agreements to avoid duplicating efforts or working at cross-purposes.
Dangerous, irregular migration is in no ones interest, so investing in more legal migration channels, enhanced mobility and integration will be essential to economic development and growth in countries and societies on both sides of the Mediterranean.
We are convinced that donors could achieve greater impact by leveraging foreign aid to shape migration for mutual benefit. Lets support a durable, structural contribution to the issue and longer-term policy thinking, or problems will persist.
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Bring the jobs to Africa
Paul Collier is professor of economics and public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University.
Europe should indeed spend €6 billion bringing jobs to Africa — it is far more humane that luring young people to the hazards of marginal lives in Europe.
The best way to spend the money is through Europes development finance institutions, such as the European Investment Bank, which can use it to encourage European firms to pioneer the development of job-intensive sectors such as light manufacturing and construction.
Africa is desperately short of proper firms that are able to harness the economies of scale and specialization that transform the productivity of ordinary workers. At the moment, most Africans work alone, or in tiny enterprises that doom them to low productivity.
Young Africans are drowning in attempts to reach our firms. We could so easily encourage our companies to bring the jobs to them instead.
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Focus on what can be done
Camille Le Coz is a policy analyst at Migration Policy Institute Europe.
In Turkey, the EU has a clear objective: to help the government deliver social services to the Syrian refugees. The situation in Africa is much more fragmented.
Africas 54 countries are dealing with a host of internal issues, and migration to Europe is far from a priority. Some East African countries — Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, for example — face similar challenges to Turkey in hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees. West African countries deal with thousands of people passing through on their journey north, or high rates of emigration among their own population.
These countries needs are structural and endlessly varied, and a few billion euros will not be enough to address them.
An African migrant, carrying a backpack with the colours of the Ghanian flag, in Marseille | Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images
Europe is already spending over €2 billion to help African governments with border management and addressing the so-called root causes of migration. Pledging funding is easy, visible, and it pleases politicians on both sides. But the jury is still out on the effectiveness of this investment.
While more investment would allow the EU to trumpet positive action on migration and African leaders to boast of bringing home more international money, the risk is that billions will be spent to achieve nothing. EU policymakers would be better off sitting down with their African counterparts to agree on a few key areas where significant changes can be achieved in the short term.
Such interventions are likely to be focused on a small region or a single issue. This makes them potentially tough to sell to the public. But this is where policymakers can make the most difference.
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Create a Marshall Plan for Africa
Mattias Tesfaye is the spokesperson on immigration and integration for the Danish Social Democrats.
It is understandable that, in a world plagued by inequality, people seek better lives for themselves elsewhere. And as the the world has grown smaller, it has become easier for more people to relocate. To counteract this trend, the international community needs to deliver a major boost to Africa on the scale of the U.S. Marshall Plan implemented in Europe after World War II.
The ineffectiveness of our efforts to date show that simply sending more money will not be enough. A modern Marshall Plan should create a better future for more people in their own countries by supporting better governance and developing significantly better opportunities for trade.
No matter how much we tighten up our immigrant policy, we will not be able to prevent people trying to escape poverty and misery. The only way to reduce the pressure on Europes borders is through a strong, binding international partnership that creates better living conditions and opportunities for its people and in which the EU takes the lead.
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First, tackle Europes lack of solidarity
Paweł Adamowicz is mayor of Gdansk, Poland.
Europes decision to pay Turkey to keep some 3.5 million Syrian refugees in the country has bought us time, but it hasnt solved the long-term problem. Refugees have become a trump card in negotiations between Turkey and the EU, and there is no real way for them to go back to Syria or integrate within their host country.
Repeating this model in Africa could help Europe in the short term, but it wont get to the root of the problem. The main challenge for Europe now is the lack of solidarity across the bloc when it comes to dealing with the refugee crisis.
To truly address [the refugee crisis], Europe must put pressure on global leaders to work together to solve ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
Some politicians say our Continent should close its borders to refugees, that we should isolate our countries. History has taught us that isolation is never the solution. In Gdańsk, weve seen this first hand: In the 80s, shipyard workers in our city fought for freedom from communism, oppression and censorship. The world helped us and we won, but that fight for freedom and solidarity is not over.
There is no easy solution to the refugee crisis. To truly address it, Europe must put pressure on global leaders to work together to solve ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. It should also be ready to engage in more flexible, short-term crisis management and share the challenge equally among EU member countries.
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Address the root causes
Mark Harbers is minister for migration in the Netherlands.
Our cooperation with Turkey was founded on mutual and well-understood interests: to control uncontrolled migration, to save lives and give protection, improve living conditions for refugees, and break the business model of smuggling networks. In other words: to resume control and safeguard stability.
Money flowing to Africa should be spent with similar conviction. To pursue shared interests with North African countries, we should use funding to implement existing agreements and partnerships with our North African partners, and to boost their capacity to secure borders, improve reception conditions, provide protection to the vulnerable and return those who are not.
Funding should also go toward addressing the root causes of migration in North Africa as well as sub-Saharan Africa, and we should be ready to open up markets and create legal migration pathways for those most talented and willing.
The answer, in short, is: money, markets and mobility. This idea is nothing new — but its one we must finally make happen.