EU must make African offer on legal migration, says Greek PM – EURACTIV.com

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The EU should consider offering African states a new regime of organized legal migration routes, alongside cooperation between the two sides on security management and border control, the Greek Prime Minister said on Thursday (27 January). Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

New “legal routes” could include provisions in the recently launched European Talent Partnerships, as well as training and student exchange programmes.

Bilateral agreements on migration of the type that Spain and Italy have with Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal for seasonal workers could also be extended.

Mitsotakis also noted that closer cooperation is needed between African countries and Europe for the return of migrants who are not eligible for asylum status, adding that African countries need to cooperate more on readmission. people who do not have the right to reside. in Europe.

“We must be clear, European countries as well as African countries, that we must condemn in the strictest terms any attempt to use migrants for geopolitical ends,” he added.

Thursday’s debate comes three weeks before a crucial EU-African Union summit where leaders hope to finalize the outlines of a “strategic partnership” between the two blocs.

While the vast majority of migration flows in Africa are intra-African migration, the number of migrants attempting to cross to Europe rose again in 2021 after falling in the first year of the Covid pandemic, mainly due to restrictions on movement imposed by confinement.

Migration policy has long been a point of contention between European and African leaders. The European Commission has opened talks with several North African countries with a view to preventing potential migrants from attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and possibly setting up EU-funded detention centres.

Meanwhile, several EU member states, including Denmark, have sought to broker deals to outsource migration and asylum claims to African states such as Rwanda.

Within the EU, progress between member states towards agreement on a common immigration and asylum system has been painfully slow for more than half a decade, although last fall the Deputy European Commission President Margaritis Schinas told EURACTIV that he expects an agreement between governments shortly after the French agreement. presidential elections in May.

Although most African states have concluded return and readmission agreements with the EU, only one such treaty, between the EU and Cape Verde, has been implemented.

Speaking at the same event, Rwandan President Paul Kagame called for a reset of the migration debate.

“The terms of the debate are broken,” Kagame said, adding that “to make progress, we need to rediagnose the root causes of migration. It is the imbalance of human capital opportunities between Europe and Africa.

He added that “every African should be able to live a dignified life in his country or in any country in Africa”, and conceded that “moving to another country is not an automatic right”.

The Rwandan president also said EU and African policymakers need to have systems in place that “better distinguish between refugee status and economic migrants”.

“The restraint policy will not work,” he concluded.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

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