25 August 2021
North Africa is a transit and destination area for migration flows coming from the rest of the continent and the Middle East.
Migration flows often come from countries affected by permanent conflicts but also by continuous instability, for instance, Libya. As a result, this generates irregular movements to Europe coupled with a high demand for international protection.
Despite the challenges that these migration flows can cause, they also represent a powerful development potential, which is essential for the EU’s long-term growth prospects. In this context, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa was established in 2015, with a migration component. And since migration is a complex and global phenomenon, a cross-border approach is proposed to the different eligible regions, including North Africa. This fund contributes to the establishment of legal and orderly migration from, to and within the region and supports effective management of migration flows while respecting human rights.
A strengthened Emergency Trust Fund for North Africa
With an allocation of more than €2 billion, the overall aim of this emergency instrument is to provide a rapid, common, complementary and flexible response to the different dimensions of an emergency situation.
On July 3, 2019, the European Commission announced an additional €61.5 million to strengthen the objective of the Migration Fund, stabilise and strengthen public services, complement the EU’s regional development and protection programme and develop regional entrepreneurship.
A fund in favor of African or European interests?
The financial instruments added to the fund demonstrate the Union’s desire to keep migration as a policy priority. This fund, which exists since 2015, has been the subject of a study by Oxfam International. According to this study, non-governmental organisations fear that this aid will be diverted to European interests. Although the study concludes that the EU Trust Fund for Africa is an essential support to displaced people and opens up opportunities for economic development in their countries, some of the projects funded somewhat demonstrate the European wilfulness to halt irregular migration in the EU.
The €61.5 million added to the Trust Fund for North Africa will be used for the development of regions such as Libya. The assistance provided is important because it benefits all parties, that is, countries in distress on the one hand and the EU on the other hand. However, the Trust Fund has had several budget increase in recent years and the continuity of this phenomenon clearly shows the hidden part of the iceberg: the fundamental problem is still present despite the regular financial reinforcement. Should the EU then rethink its strategy for financing projects through this fund?