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The role of private sector investments’ in migration governance with Africa

The last phase in the developments of EU’s external migration policy began with the start of the migration crisis in 2015. The Commission suggested in the “European Agenda on Migration” that the EU and the Member States should “work together with partner countries to put in place concrete measures to prevent hazardous journeys”. In this document cooperation with third countries was highlighted as the pivotal point of the EU response to migration flows.

Developing the regions predominantly sending migrants towards Europe by supporting the growth of the labour market in the third country is considered as a way to mitigate the immigration fluxes. The development – migration nexus has been a component of EU migration policy since the late 1990’s with the Tampere programme. Policy makers try to balance efforts where both development matters can be supported, and migration policy goals can be met. Even though Ronald Skeldon as well as Stephen Castles, Hein de Haas and Mark J Miller argued since almost two decades that the development of the country of origin cannot stop emigration, this idea is now (again) at the centre of the Migration Partnership Framework (MPF)

The EU put forth a Communication Establishing a Migration Partnership Framework with Third Countries under the “European Agenda on Migration”, stating the importance of addressing “the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement and to provide capacity building to the host communities and relevant institutions”. One of the long-term measures of the MPF is to “address the root causes of irregular migration and force displacement by supporting partner countries in their political, social and economic development”. A key component of the MPF is the EU compacts. EU compacts resort to “all means available” to fight irregular migration and externalise the reception of migrants and refugees to third countries; “all means available” including development aid policy tools. The Partnership Framework covers not only migration as such but also readmission, fighting organised crime and the development of countries of origin and transit covered by the Framework.

After the launch of the MPF, two significant schemes were introduced. The “Union Resettlement Framework” which attempts to offer an orderly and safe pathway for asylum seekers. It is directed at providing the legal needs of asylum seekers in the event of domestic conflict, political persecution and further dangerous reasons. The second scheme is the “External Investment Plan” directed at the investment in Africa and the expansion of the EU Neighbourhood. This plan is in line with the MPF’s objective to use private and public investment to enhance local capacity but also more broadly with the EU’s international engagements. The External Investment Plan put emphases on a few main investment fields, including: sustainable energy and sustainable connectivity; micro, small and medium enterprises financing; sustainable agriculture, rural entrepreneurs and agroindustry; sustainable cities and digitalisation for sustainable development.

The main goals of the Investment Plan are to further economic and social development and to create jobs, therefore addressing the root causes of irregular migration and supporting EU’s migration policy goals. In order to reach these goals, the Plan will, for example, provide guarantees to banks to lend to local entrepreneurs and provide technical assistance such as mentoring to potential entrepreneurs. This is in line with EU’s current preference for private sector investment’s instead of traditional development aid.

Author: Dr. Fanny Tittel-Mosser

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