13 November 2015

At the Valletta Summit on migration of 11 and 12 November 2015, 60 European and African Heads of State and governments agreed on a political declaration and Action Plan for cooperation in the area of migration, with sixteen priority initiatives to be launched before the end of 2016.  African civil society has criticized the Action Plan for being one sided and Eurocentric, and many organisations are worried by the increasing emphasis placed on return and readmission in cooperation for development.

‘’While there are some positive steps in the area of legal migration for work, study and research, as well as a  commitment to strengthen search and rescue, it is clear that the European States’ main objective remains to deter the migratory flows. No meaningful commitment is there for safe and legal channels for refugees’’, stated Michael Diedring, ECRE’s Secretary General.

The priority initiatives agreed on include development, legal migration and mobility, international protection, the management of irregular migration, smuggling and trafficking, and return. Participating States agreed to step up operational cooperation between EU agencies and African law enforcement authorities and launch projects to strengthen institutional capacities and carry out joint investigations to fight against human trafficking and smuggling. EU and African representatives announced further measures to facilitate return and readmission of migrants, not only from Europe, but also from country of transit to country of origin.

‘’We are particularly concerned about the emphasis placed on border control and readmission, and even more so at the bilateral level between European and African states, which bears significant risks of refoulement, detention and ill treatment in countries of origin and transit,” Mr Diedring said.

States agreed to enhance the protection capacities of countries hosting large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, including security in refugee camps and supporting local development for host communities and refugees alike. Countries need to be supported in their efforts to adhere to and comply with the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol; access to justice, legal assistance, witness-protection, health and psychosocial support will be facilitated. The Action Plan stresses the need to further engage with civil society, and jointly explore the concept of enhanced capacities in priority regions along the main migratory routes, possibly with pilot projects in cooperation with UNHCR. Existing programmes, such as the Regional Development and Protection Programmes in the Horn of Africa and North, and resettlement commitments are also mentioned in the plan.

The Action Plan will be implemented and monitored in the framework of the Rabat Process, the Khartoum Process and the Africa-EU Partnership. In addition to existing financial instruments, the Action Plan is supported by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. So far Member States and EU’s contributions amount to €81.2 million. In parallel to the Summit, the EU and Ethiopia signed a joint Declaration for a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM).

For further information:



This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 13 November 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.