EU-Africa: "Build bridges between people, not walls": civil society statement

A statement signed by networks and organisations representing hundreds of different groups, calling for a change in approach to EU-Africa relations and an end to the EU's "security approach to migration policies." The statement was published ahead of the European Union-African Union summit on 17 and 18 February.


Originally published in French, available via Migreurop (Statewatch is a member of Migreurop).

On 17 and 18 February, the EU-African Union leaders' summit is taking place in Brussels. This is the sixth summit to adopt a common vision for 2030 with a focus on security and economic policies.

We, African and European civil society organisations working on migration issues, aware of the stakes and challenges and of the need for a paradigm shift for win-win relationships between the two continents, call on our States to address the following issues:

Europe is putting its interests first by imposing its vision of the world on Africa, by implementing restrictive and repressive measures and policies aimed at curbing migration on its soil by investing colossal human, material and financial resources that could be used in more relevant sectors. Migration being a social, economic and political phenomenon inherent to human nature, the reality of the facts proves the inefficiency of these measures and highlights the violations of the human rights of migrants.

However, European policies have the effect of reducing intra-African mobility, weighing on the continent's development in the medium term and going against the actions taken by the African Union through the frameworks and instruments linking migration and sustainable development.

Thus, it is important for African states to adopt the main instruments and texts such as:

  • the ECOWAS Common Approach to Migration Management which works towards intra-regional population mobility at the heart of the regional integration process;
  • the Agenda 2063 which aspires to dynamic and mutually beneficial links between Africa and its diaspora;
  • the Migration Policy Framework for Africa adopted by the AU Assembly in 2006, which provides a non-binding legal instrument, calling on Member States to articulate their migration policies to development imperatives and the protection of the rights of migrants;
  • the African Union Protocol on Free Movement, Residence and Establishment in Africa;
  • the African Agenda on Migration, which is intended to be a pragmatic and effective framework for Member States to improve their responses to migration challenges and to take advantage of the development potential of human mobility on the African continent.

Any negotiation with other continents must be in line with this political will. In this respect, we strongly denounce the EU's willingness to negotiate with Senegal to strengthen the presence of Frontex off the Senegalese coast, which calls into question its national sovereignty, our freedom of mobility and also raises the problem of power relations between a state and a continental organisation such as the EU.
Beyond this issue, the involvement of all actors, particularly civil society, in the definition, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes is nothing more than wishful thinking that is slow to materialise. In general, the texts are often well written but their application is always problematic due to a lack of political will.

We call on the European Union to abandon the security approach to migration policies, to facilitate mobility between the two continents and to "build bridges between people, not walls" while:

  • enhancing the potential of migrants (diasporas, refugees and displaced persons) as actors in the development of their countries of origin and host countries in order to meet the 2030 deadline;
  • respecting international law, particularly with regard to mass refoulements;
  • facilitating the obtaining of visas and assessing the role of embassies and private intermediary structures in the management of administrative procedures etc...

Signatories

  1. Collectif Loujna-Toukaranké which brings together 16 organisations from ECOWAS countries, the Maghreb and France
  2. Council of Non-Governmental Development Organisations (CONGAD) of Senegal, which brings together 178 organisations
  3. Migration Development Network (REMIDEV), member of Loujna and affiliated to CONGAD (31 member organisations)
  4. The Heinrich Böll Foundation Senegal Office
  5. The Migreurop network with 51 organisations and 43 individual members in 17 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East
  6. The National Centre for Development Cooperation (CNCD 11.11.11) of Belgium which brings together more than 80 organisations
  7. Alliance for Migration, Leadership and Development (AMLD)
  8. Francophone Network for Gender Equality (RF-EFH)
  9. Enda Lead Afrique Francophone

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, CC BY 2.0

 

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