New President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen and Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen visited Ethiopia to strengthen the EU’s partnership with the major refugee hosting country in the horn of Africa. For North Africa, new actions of €150 million under the EU Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) will focus on efforts to “combat human smuggling and manage irregular migration” and promote “voluntary return”.

During her first official visit outside Europe as President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen announced a significant boost to the EU’s cooperation with Ethiopia. EU plans to help Ethiopia’s political transition and economic reforms to consolidate the country’s leading role in promoting economic integration, peace and stability in East Africa with €170 million. Ethiopia is one of the main refugee-hosting countries in Africa with a refugee population of more than 700, 000 people from Somalia, Eritrea and South Sudan as well as 2,1m internally displaced persons (IDP). Urpilainen travelled on to Kenya where she announced programmes totalling €31 million to boost investment and create jobs.

Under the North Africa Window of the EUTF, the Commission adopted four new “migration-related actions” totalling €147.7 million. The bulk of the amount, €101.7 million, will support Moroccan efforts to “combat human smuggling and manage irregular migration”. The second biggest chunk with €24 million is dedicated to “Voluntary Humanitarian Returns from Libya and protection measures”, in cooperation with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). €17 million will support communities and vulnerable children in Libya.

The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa was established at the Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015 to address the “root causes of instability, forced displacement and irregular migration and contribute to better migration management”. Despite formal commitments to create legal pathways of migration, the funding attributed to this objective remain marginal.

A report of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) reviewing EU support to Morocco found that budget support did not provide sufficient support for the country’s reforms and sustainable development goals. Migration under the Joint Programming (JP) process was outside the scope of the audit.

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Photo: (CC): Lennart Meri Conference, May 2019

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.