LET US HELP THEM WHERE THEY LIVE!!! (Aiutiamoli a casa loro!!!)
Mass migration has become, in the latest years, an ever-present issue in the narratives concerning the European Union. Every single member State feels or is affected by this situation and solutions have been vigorously advocated both by international stakeholders and private citizens alike.
Since overall migration flows might be decreasing in intensity, but are far from being stopped altogether, their management is still, up to this day, on top of the European Union’s agenda.
Action by the EU to tackle the issue has been wide in range and scope and has had all sorts of political and social consequences.
Among the most notable actions taken by the EU, we have the Emergency Relocation Mechanism, the EU military operation EUNAVFOR MED (Operation Sophia), the European Border and Coastal Guard and the call to reform the European Asylum System and the Dublin mechanism, which was set as a priority for 2017 by EU Parliament, Council and Commission in their first ever Joint Declaration.
The Migrant crisis, however, does not only have an internal intra-European dimension: inherently, it has an external dimension that cannot be ignored.
Immigrant flows can be a vehicle for terrorist infiltrations: border controls are therefore necessary not only in EU frontline States, but also in the countries of origin and transit of migrants.
Other measures are equally considered necessary, like the fight against smugglers and traffickers, bilateral agreements for effective return policies and, last but not least, effective action against the root causes of migration: wars and poverty.
Incessant is the call to help migrants in their countries of origin, in order to prevent their departure in the first place. This kind of modus operandi has been advocated not only by populist or xenophobic parties and political forces, but also from more progressive ones, and the European Union Institutions have started working on it already .
The Valletta Summit on Migration
The June 2015 European Council appointed the HR Federica Mogherini, together with the Commission, to prepare a global package to support high-level dialogues with the main countries of origin of irregular migrants.
For what concerns cooperation with countries of origin and transit, the European Council has declared its intention to build a true partnership reinforcing overall cooperation on stemming the flows of irregular migrants and building up some sort of development assistance and enhancement of European investment in Africa, providing social and economic opportunities that could address the root causes of migrations, a plan that was elaborated at the EU-Africa Summit of La Valletta of 11th and 12th of November 2015 and that entailed the creation of a dedicated European Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF).
The June European Council therefore, did not act only in a mere spirit of solidarity towards those Member States most affected by the Migrant crisis: it also tried to tackle the root factors of the phenomenon itself, because they perceive it as a security issue for the Union – a very pragmatic approach, sooner than one founded on solidarity.
The Migrant crisis has been securitized by the European Union, perhaps transcending the simple scale of mutual assistance in the face of catastrophes.
By the time the EU-Africa Summit of La Valletta on Migration unravelled, the general approach of the Governments of Member States towards the issue of Migration had changed as clearly emerges from the text of the Action Plan itself that the Summit produced.
The European Union surrendered to the fact that current migration flows are not a crisis: they are the state of things, a systemic trend, so huge that it cannot be stopped: it can only be accommodated, made beneficial for the parties involved and reduced in its illegal component: no effort was made to give a halt to migration flows.
The Valletta Action Plan
The Valletta Action Plan is funded on five priority domains:
- Development of the benefits of Migration and addressing of the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement;
- Legal Migration and mobility;
- Protection and asylum;
- Prevention of and fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings.
The Valletta Summit Action Plan entails transversal and variegated actions in all the States of two entire Continents that is resumed in the Political Declaration that was hither produced:
We recognise the high degree of interdependence between Africa and Europe as we face common challenges that have an impact on migration: promoting democracy, human rights, eradicating poverty, supporting socio-economic development, including rural development, mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change. We will pay particular attention to stability and security, which is currently threatened by terrorism, the arms trade and armed conflicts.
We commit ourselves to address these challenges in a concerted manner, notably through early warning, conflict prevention and conflict resolution.
Migration within Africa and Europe, from Africa to Europe and from Europe to Africa is a multi-faceted phenomenon. We commit to address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement resulting from state fragility and insecurity, as well as from demographic, economic and environmental trends. (…) Rekindling hope, notably for the African youth, must be our paramount objective.
We acknowledge that further efforts should be made to advance legal migration and mobility possibilities.
Moreover, the European Commission established the EUTF, made up of 1.8 billion Euros from the EU budget and the European Development Fund (EDF), to be complemented by contributions from EU Member States and other donors, amounting to over 10 billion Euros until 2020, which aims to support inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
The Fund constitutes an important instrument for the implementation of the Action plan adopted at the Valletta Summit, but a group of representatives of the African civil society have deemed it insufficient in its limited financial extension for such a wide range set of problem.
However, the European strife to save lives and managing the migrant issue is not only a matter of coordination between Europe and Africa, but also a matter of coordination inside the EU.
These years, however, populist and far-right forces are rising to power in more and more European countries, bringing their nationalist ideals and repulsion towards European integration to the high spheres of Government, making coordination at a European level harder than ever.
If this nationalist trend does not change (one might say “paradoxically”, I’d rather say “naturally”), the migrant crisis might really get completely out of control for the demise of all people involved.
Lorenzo Canonico – December 2016
Lorenzo Canonico graduated in International Relations in February 2016 at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice.
He is currently working at the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) in Ljublana, Slovenia. He worked for three months, in 2015, as a Trainee at the Italian Embassy and at the Italian Cultural Institute in Addis Ababa, where he also participated to a high level training for Human Rights Field Officers.
 FRONTEX Annual Risk Analysis 2016 Q2
 EUROPEAN COUNCIL Presidency Conclusions, Art.4 (25th – 26th June 2015)
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called out for the solidarity principle of the European Union and fought for and obtained the temporary and exceptional relocation over two years from the frontline Member States Italy and Greece to other Member States of 40.000 persons in clear need of international protection, in which all Member States will participate.
On 22nd September 2015, the Council raised the number of people to be relocated to 120 000, albeit facing great opposition on the issue from Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary
 COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/778 on a European Military Operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED) (18th May 2015)
 EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT and COUNCIL Regulation Of The European Parliament And Of The Council On The European Border And Coast Guard (13th September 2016)
 MARTIN SCHULZ, ROBERTO FICO, JEAN CLAUDE JUNCKER Joint Declaration of President Martin Schulz, Prime Minister Robert Fico and President Jean-Claude Juncker on the EU’s priority files for 2017 (13th December 2016)
 IL POPULISTA La Merkel ha paura e copia Salvini: “Aiutarli a casa loro, difendere i confini” (15th December 2016)
 EUROPEAN COUNCIL Presidency Conclusions, Art.6 (25th – 26th June 2015)
 Securitization in international relations (Copenhagen School) describes the process of State actors transforming subjects into maters of security: an extreme version of “politicization” that enables extraordinary means to be used in the name of security. Cf BARRY BUZAN, OLE WAEVER, JAPP DE WILDE Security: a new framework for analysis (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998) p.25
 The Action Plan of the Valletta Summit is aimed at crushing the causes of illegal Migration, not the movement of people across countries per se. The perception of the Migrants crisis as a systemic issue is one that does not only emerge from the interpretation of the document produced by the Summit, but also by the personal opinions on the issue given by every single Diplomat from the African Union, European Union and Italian Embassy and Cooperation I have had the chance of speaking to during my traineeship in Addis Ababa
 VALLETTA SUMMIT ON MIGRATION Action Plan (11th-12th November 2015)
 VALLETTA SUMMIT ON MIGRATION Political Declaration (11th-12th November 2015)
 EUROPEAN COMMISSION – International Cooperation and Development The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa available at: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/regions/africa/eu-emergency-trust-fund-africa_en
 EUROPEAN COMMISSION Fact sheet – A European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (Valletta, 12th November 2015)
 FRIEDRICH EBERT STIFTUNG, ECDPM, SAL Making Migration beneficial to Europe and Africa (21st October 2015)