Brussels 30 June 2016/ ACP: The issue of migration took centre stage as part of the 10th edition of the European Development Days (EDD16) on June 15-16 in Brussels, in a debate session co-organised by the ACP Secretariat and the African Diaspora Network platform in Europe (ADNE) that scrutinised the EU’s migration policy, security issues, "success stories" of North-South migration, as well as new measures to build new partnerships that benefit all.

More coherence needed between migration and development policies

Under the theme "Win-win solutions for migration", pannellistNatalia Alonso, Deputy Director of Advocacy & Campaigns at Oxfam International, said migration has become a deep foreign policy issue for Europe. However, there is “great concern” on whether it complements Europe’s commitments and policies to fight global poverty.

"According to the Lisbon Treaty [the constitutional blue print of the European Union], development cooperation should fight against poverty and work towards its eradication. If we use ODA [Overseas Development Assistance] funds to support security measures, it is not really aiming for the eradication of poverty. It may prevent migration — but that's not the goal.”

She also highlighted that although Europe is the world’s wealthiest continent, 86% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries and other countries much poorer than Europe.

Opportunities for partnership

Filiberto Ceriani-Sebregondi, Head of the Division for Development Cooperation Coordination at the European External Action Service, stated the need to establish a partnership with third countries in a more coherent and coordinated manner.

"Basically, we think we have much to offer to our partner countries…. We can offer to our partners better market access to Europe. We can offer better cooperation on security. In our trade with the countries of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, one of the first things they ask is for help in managing their borders… Certainly, security is an area where there is considerable room for collaboration, with a positive effect on the development path,” he said.

Mr. Secregondi also pointed to the External Investment Fund, which aims to crowd-in private investment in developing countries, starting with Africa and the EU’s neighbourhood. For this, the European Commission plans to mobilise €3.1 billion, which could trigger total investments of more than €60 billion if EU Member States and other partners match the EU’s contribution.

“We can also offer other types of programmes. For example, I think we can establish between Europe and Africa, a kind of generational pact, by which we can export retirees with their pensions, their experience, their health insurance, and so on, and we can import young skilled or unskilled to be skilled migrants. And certainly totally there is scope to do this, like in the coast of Senegal, or in Morocco or in other countries,” said Mr. Sebregondi.

Positive stories on migration

Meanwhile, Sangwa Rwabuhihi, a young entrepreneur from Rwanda, called for more visibility and dialogue about the positive examples of North-South migration. Citing the high numbers of Portuguese immigrants who have migrated to Angola to work, as well as Asian immigrants from Pakistan who are well-integrated in Kenya, he urged a more open-mided view of migration as a positive global force: "The urban population in Africa is very cosmopolitan and very open to working with the rest of the world."

The Secretary General of the ACP Group, Dr. Patrick Gomes concluded the debate by encouraging a more critical examination of the migration policies currently being implemented by the EU and other major players, while also stressing the need to involve a wide range of stakeholders, including young entrepreneurs, civil society, and the private sector in discussing migration policies.

"We need to look on the positive side to move forward. Examples of success stories, positive migration should be promoted," he concluded.

For more information, photos, soundbites from this session at the European Development Days, visit:

(Photos from top: ACP Secretary General Dr. P.I Gomes explains positive aspects of migration during lab session at EDD16; Members of the panel at the debate co-organised by ACP and ADNE on migration and development including, from left,Sangwa Rwabuhihi – Young Enterpreneur/ African Diaspora Network in Europe, Dr. Patrick Gomes – ACP Secretary General, Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi – European External Action Service,Natalia Alonso – Oxfam International and Eugenio Ambrosi – International Organisation for Migration (IOM)/ Photos by EDD16)

– G.Z for ACP Press