Cooperation on Home Affairs is an integral part of the EU-Africa partnership. The EU has been running an intense and broad dialogue with Africa on migration and mobility at a bilateral, regional and continental level.
The dialogue intensified over the years. Enhanced cooperation in the framework of comprehensive and tailor-made partnerships with North African and Sub-Saharan African countries, as well as regional and continental level cooperation remain a priority under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.
The EU-Africa Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment
The EU-Africa (MME) was launched during the 2nd Africa-EU Summit of Heads of State and Government in December 2007 in Lisbon, where the Joint EU-Africa Strategy and the First Action Plan (2008-2010) were also adopted. At the 5th African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) Summit held in Abidjan on 29-30 November 2017, it was agreed to deepen cooperation and dialogue on migration and mobility by developing a joint framework for a strengthened continental dialogue on migration and mobility.
Since 2017, the African Union-European Union cooperation on migration takes places within the the Africa-EU Migration and Mobility Dialogue (MMD). The focus areas of the MMD are:
- remittances and diaspora investment,
- information and intelligence sharing to strengthen the fight against trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants and
- sustainable reintegration of migrants (taking into account lessons from the AUEU-UN Tripartite Task Force on Stranded Migrants in Libya).
Visible achievements and progress
The added value of the AU-EU Migration and Mobility Dialogue has been repeatedly recognised. Currently, based on the experiences of their cooperation in the last decade, the African Union Commission and the EU are working towards deepening cooperation on migration and mobility, through actions and programmes adding value and are complementing the existing bilateral and regional initiatives.
The establishment of a Regional Operational Centre (ROCK) in 2017, supports the African countries in their fight against human trafficking and people smuggling, through the collection, exchange and analysis of information, support joint investigations and enhance the coherence of national and regional legal frameworks.
Founded in 2018, the African Institute on Remittances to better leverage financial flows and monitor the flows of labour and remittances and oversee policies to make them easier, cheaper, safer, and more productive.
A study was launched in 2020 in order to identify the best practices for return, readmission and reintegration, in order to support the efforts of African Union Member States.
Cooperation at regional level
The Commission is supporting financially and politically the Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development with Western and Central African countries launched in 2006 in Rabat (the so-called ). The Rabat Process brings together some 55 countries of origin, transit and destination, of migration along the migratory route from West and Central Africa to Europe.
Covering cooperation on irregular migration, legal migration, migration and development as well as international protection - it is an abundant source of good practice and experience, as well as to inspire bilateral relations and other cooperation frameworks. It has an important role in implementing concrete actions.
The Commission is supporting financially and politically the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative (the Khartoum Process). The Khartoum Process is a platform for political cooperation amongst the countries along the migration route between the Horn of Africa and Europe (40 countries in total).
It aims at establishing a continuous dialogue for enhanced cooperation on migration and mobility. The Process also seeks to support member states in identifying and implementing concrete projects of the migration management. The main focus is fighting trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling, but the dialogue also covers other areas including the causes of irregular migration, legal migration and mobility, asylum and international protection, fight against irregular migration and smuggling of people, and return and readmission.
Valletta Summit on migration, 11-12 November 2015
The Valletta summit on migration brought together European and African Heads of State and Government in an effort to strengthen cooperation and address the current challenges but also the opportunities of migration. It recognised that migration is a shared responsibility of countries of origin, transit and destination. EU and Africa worked in a spirit of partnership to find common solutions to challenges of mutual interest. Leaders participating in the summit adopted a political declaration and an action plan designed to:
- address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement,
- enhance cooperation on legal migration and mobility,
- reinforce the protection of migrants and asylum seekers,
- prevent and fight irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings and
- work more closely to improve cooperation on return, readmission and reintegration.
The Valletta Summit recognised the important role of the Rabat Process and Khartoum Process and tasked them with monitoring the implementation of the Valletta Action Plan and the Joint EU-Africa Strategy.
The EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa, was also formally launched at the occasion of the Valletta summit. It provides additional funding to support the implementation of the action plan. The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa is a flexible and innovative funding vehicle drawing on both EU and Member State funds. Coming to an end in 2020, the Commission proposed a prolongation of the EU Trust Fund to 2021.
Bilateral Dialogues between the EU and Sub-Saharan African Countries
The EU engages also on bilateral level with certain Sub-Saharan African countries on migration.
On 21 May 2008, Cape Verde and the EU signed a joint declaration on a Mobility Partnership, the first cooperation of this kind between the EU and an African state and, for the time being, the only Mobility Partnership concluded with a Sub-Saharan state.
Five EU countries (Portugal, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain) participate in this partnership and develop several initiatives covering the different objectives embodied in the political declaration.
In 2012 and 2013, respectively, two flagship agreements, one on visa facilitation and the other on readmission, were concluded by Cape Verde and the EU. Both entered into force on 1 December 2014.
The EU launched a High-Level Dialogue on migration with Niger on 18 September 2015. The EUCAP Sahel Niger mission was enlarged in July 2015 including a new objective on migration. The EUCAP field office in Agadez opened in April 2016. Since November 2017, refugees have been evacuated in a humanitarian evacuation scheme from Libya to Niger via the Emergency Transit Mechanism in Niger.
Nigeria is one of the main countries of origin of asylum seekers and migrants residing irregularly in Europe. The humanitarian crisis caused by the insurgency of non-state armed groups in north-eastern Nigeria stands out as the main cause of large-scale displacements within Nigeria, as well as to neighbouring countries. Currently, there are an estimated 2.7 million internally displaced persons within Nigeria.
Nigeria and the EU decided in 2008 to take their relationships to a new level through intensified dialogue and enhanced cooperation. In 2009, the EU and Nigeria formalized this commitment in the form of the Nigeria EU Joint Way Forward. They agreed to intensify their political dialogue and to hold at least a yearly senior officials' meeting and a Ministerial dialogue.
Under the umbrella of the EU-Nigeria Ministerial meetings, several political dialogues session on migration have taken place in the last few years. A Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM) was signed on 12 March 2015, providing a solid reference for enhanced dialogue and cooperation on migration issues. Negotiations on a readmission agreement started in 2016. At the 7th Ministerial dialogue of 18 November 2020 and as reflected in the joint communique issued on that occasion, the EU and Nigeria committed to step-up cooperation on migration, especially legal migration, migrant smuggling, border management and effective return and readmission, as well as on organised crime, cybercrime and trafficking in human beings. Both parties expressed their willingness to resume and conclude negotiations on a readmission agreement as soon as possible.
The EU and Mauritania have a long standing cooperation in migration management, particularly as regards border control and irregular migration which is being further developed and includes fighting migrant smuggling.
An Anti-Smuggling Ministerial Conference, hosted by Italy on 13 July 2020, brought together Germany, France, Malta and Spain, as well as Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, with the participation of Commissioners Johansson and Várhelyi. The conference sent an important signal of enhanced mutual commitment between the EU and African Partners to take concrete steps to combat migrant smuggling and identify key areas for operational engagement, such as cooperation with law enforcement authorities to conduct investigations, stepping up the work of EU agencies including for law enforcement and border management, information campaigns and deploying European liaison officers. The objective is to translate the political commitment expressed by African partners into concrete operational action.
Political dialogue with the EU on migration started in 2016. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA) and Senegalese authorities cooperate in the context of the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) and in June 2019 an AFIC Risk analysis cell was inaugurated in Senegal.EU Delegation in Senegal
Ethiopia is the EU’s key partner for the Horn of Africa for migration, regional peace and security, economic development, and political stability. The Strategic Engagement between the EU and Ethiopia, signed in 2016, frames bilateral relations. It includes annual Ministerial meetings and is composed of six sectoral dialogues, including migration. In the context of migration, Ethiopia is a country of origin, transit and destination. Ethiopia is also a major host country for refuges in Africa.
The EU and Ethiopia signed a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM) in 2015. On 29 January 2018, the Council approved procedures for returning Ethiopians to their country of origin.