In the aftermath of the Lampedusa tragedy, the European Council and Task Force Mediterranean are focusing on cooperation with non-European countries. This externalization of the European migratory policy can promote economic development and European Union values. However, to engender solidarity in the countries of origin and transit of migrants, and a befitting treatment of the latter, the EU will need to create the means for this policy: this will require generosity, innovation and responsiveness with regard to these countries.
Migratory cooperation with non-european countries: a very vast project
For the short- and medium-term, information campaigns and support for border infrastructure in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean will aim to deter migrants from setting out to undertake perilous journeys. Consequently, Interpol’s WAPIS Program (West African Police Information System) will be reinforced. Mobility partnerships, aiming to organize legal migrations in the EU in exchange for greater efforts to combat illegal immigration, will be promoted with Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya and Tunisia.
In the field of asylum, regional protection programs must help non-European countries handle asylum requests. One such program should soon be supporting Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, which are hosting 2.3 million people affected by the Syrian conflict. However, as these programs are not always implemented in the spirit of protecting the fundamental rights that they are supposed to disseminate, the European Council also promotes resettlement programs that give people who are recognized as refugees outside Europe the possibility of settling in a Member State. Only 12,340 people fleeing the Syrian conflict were resettled in 2013. The Commission and HCR will increase their pressure on Member States to make the EU increase its global share of the treatment of refugees.
Furthermore, with a view to the post-Stockholm European Strategy, the Commission will propose the development of more temporary humanitarian visas than the other forms of international protection. It is also considering developing access to European procedures outside the EU, which will allow people in need of protection to be screened close to conflict zones.
In order to “tackle the root causes of flows”, since 2005 the European Union has also been promoting a comprehensive approach to migrations, with the aim of achieving a “triple win”: meet the needs of the European labor market, reinforce migrants’ rights, and develop countries of origin. Since 2010, a European Immigration Portal has been providing information on the needs of European labor markets. Various directives (students, highly-qualified persons, seasonal workers) aim to secure migrants’ rights (recognition of diplomas, support for circular migration). For 2014-2020, assistance in the field of migration will account for 7% of the thematic areas of the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI). Measures to support migrant remittances and mobility partnerships are also part of this comprehensive approach.
In a period of budgetary constraints, how to ensure the implementation of this cooperation with non-european countries?
A “false good idea”: make aid conditional upon performance in combating illegal immigration. It is true that European financial support, such as the support that is supposed to contribute to reintegrating migrants in their countries of origin, is sometimes perceived as providing incentives for the return of people away from the EU. Its allocation could be regulated more effectively. However, in these negotiations on border controls, the EU is not always in a position of strength vis-à-vis non-European countries, which benefit from migrant remittances and must bear the costs related to readmissions. Readmission agreements whereby the EU accepts or not to facilitate access to visas are proving difficult to achieve with Morocco, Algeria and China, or have been reached (with Ukraine, Russia and Turkey).Finally, in a country as fragile as Libya, what could be the effect of suspending aid because of ineffective border controls?
Consequently, if the European Union wants to involve non-European countries in the fight against illegal immigration, it will need to pay the price. As well as the “Asylum and Migration Fund” (EUR 3.1bn for 2014-2020), “Internal Security Fund” (EUR 3.7bn) and “Development Assistance Fund” – the future neighborhood facility (a total of EUR 15.4bn) and EDF (a total of EUR 30.2bn), it will no doubt be necessary to find additional financing from Member States.
It will also be important to convince non-European countries that their interests are being taken into account. In this respect, migrant financing should not be mixed with development assistance financing. In addition, demands from migrant countries of origin or transit concern extended possibilities for legal immigration towards the EU. As development does not initially bring about a reduction in immigration, a great deal of work still needs to be continued with the aim of regulating flows, which is less costly than development assistance or border controls. In terms of highly-qualified migrants and intra-group posted workers, European rules to combat the brain drain and support circular migration will need to be reinforced. Finally, regulations on migrant remittances will need to be improved in order to reduce costs, secure them, and promote financial innovations that generate development.