4th EU-Africa summit – EU-Africa Migration policies: the deadly obliviousness of heads of state

On both shores of the Mediterranean, a securitarian view of migrations is shared. The externalisation of border management, the strengthening of surveillance systems through Frontex and Eurosur, as well as the instrumental use of public development aid to try to keep populations in their home countries, remain the key means for its implementation.

Following the 4th EU-Africa summit that was held on 2-3 April 2014 in Brussels, the heads of state and of the governments of the EU and Africa, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, the President of the African Union (AU) and the President of the AU Commission declared that they were “particularly proud of the breadth and depth of our partnership”. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy was delighted, claiming that it is “a real advance within which to frame immigration”.

However, nothing new or encouraging was planned. Each of the three official declarations issued by the summit, one of which was specifically dedicated to “migration and mobility”, falls within a state of continuity to strengthen the global approach to migrations that the EU has been promoting since 2005. The common roadmap for 2014-2017 proposes a Euro-African cooperation that focuses in particular on the fight against human trafficking, on strengthening the management of migrations as well as the fight against irregular immigration. To do so, provisions are envisaged in the field of expulsion as well as measures to “promote the employment of young people”, presented as an alternative to irregular migration. These cosmetic measures deny the deep-lying causes of the North-South inequalities that cause, among other effects, population movements between Africa and Europe.

Paradoxically, those who uttered the declarations recognise that they “are deeply worried by the serious social and human consequences of irregular immigration and the loss of human lives that it causes”, and declare that they are “more determined than ever to act to stop such tragedies from occurring in the future”. To do so, they propose to act, hand-in-hand, “by effectively tackling irregular immigration and by adopting a global approach to migration management, within the framework of strict respect for human rights and human dignity”.

How can we continue to believe the EU and AU’s misleading rhetoric, when it is precisely this policy of border closure which generates irregular immigration and which causes the death of thousands of migrants at Europe’s external borders and in African transit countries? In fact, migrants are forced to take increasingly dangerous routes in order to elude controls, and to resort to smugglers which makes them even more vulnerable, considering that they deal with the human trafficking networks that come into play.

As European and African associations that defend the rights of migrants, and as members of Migreurop, we condemn the outcome of this 4th EU-Africa summit which, once again, reveals the obliviousness of Euro-African migration policies, the irresponsibility and cynicism of their authors. Authors who must be identified as those responsible for the death of men, women and children at the EU’s borders. The vision and objectives on which the EU-Africa partnership rests inevitably announce an increase in the future violations of rights, in suffering and in the loss of human lives for migrants who strive to attain dignity.