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Gentiloni – Avramopoulos: “Migrants, helping Africa to help Europe” (La Repubblica)

Dear Editor, the challenges raised by the migration flows to Europe during these last few years have shown that we need a global approach reaching well beyond European borders.

This is why the European Union launched a new strategy with the aim of defining a Compact with the principal Countries of origin and transit of migrants. The key element of our approach – launched at the initiative of Italy – is to establish customised partnerships and “Pacts” to improve the management of migration flows according to the specific situation of every Partner Country.

The rationale behind these partnerships is to tackle the migration issue in a solidarity-based approach with common actions grounded on shared interests: combating the deep-set causes of illegal migration, fighting human traffickers, contributing to enhanced border controls in these Countries and improving the repatriation procedures of illegal migrants.  

Within the framework of this new approach, on 10 and 11 of November we will visit Niger, Mali and Senegal. Our mission is aimed at reinforcing the partnerships with each one of these three Countries with a view to improving the joint management of migration flows.

Investing in peace and development in Africa is not only beneficial for that Continent. It also means investing in our security and prosperity. The future of Africa is one of the major challenges of the 21st century, as its population is estimated to reach 2.4 billion people by 2050, with all that this implies in terms of population growth and migration flows, among other things.

In order to exploit the positive momentum of this unprecedented “demographic dividend” we need good policies and not selfish closures. The European Union, world leader in providing development aid, has the resources to favour economic and social infrastructures in Africa, capable of reducing migration flows. Aiding local, regional and national development can contribute to solving the deep-set causes of illegal migration. Furthermore, we have the capacity of offering aid and programmes to re-integrate and train the migrants who must be repatriated or who decide to return to Africa. This can be further promoted by compounding European and African policies, supporting African cooperation in managing borders at regional level and combating the traffickers of migrants.    

In this perspective, and following up on the impulse given by Italy, the European Union has decided to increase the financial resources allocated to the Trust Fund for Africa with an extra 500 million euros, and to accelerate their utilisation. Several projects have either already been or will soon be launched in five African Countries with a priority status in the Compact. In addition to Niger, Mali and Senegal, which we are planning to visit, there are also Ethiopia and Nigeria.

The European Commission has also proposed – with the support of Italy – the establishment of a European External Investment Plan which, once approved by the European Council and Parliament, will make available additional financial resources on the medium-term to manage migration flows.  

In the meantime, it is important to achieve tangible results as quickly as possible. The joint approach taken with Senegal, Mali and Niger is making positive progress and is already achieving concrete results. They are only the first steps in a very complex and long-term effort. The challenge posed by migration, especially in the Mediterranean, is a global issue with which we will have to come to terms. The Countries that are in the forefront in rescuing people at sea and providing them with reception services call on Europe and its Member States to take urgent action in Africa in a spirit of solidarity. In play are the cohesion and values inherent to the European project.