“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country” says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 13. But today, this fundamental right seems to be at stake in Europe, mostly when we look towards migration issues. So, how is the EU responding to this challenge? What solutions are offered?
One of the options could be to invest in Africa. According to Theo Francken, Belgium‘s secretary of state for asylum and migration, the money spent by the European Union should be used to stimulate growth and employment in order to boost the buying power of African population. The EU should also fund projects to enforce the rule of law and support investment banks that issue micro-credits. We can, for example, mention the EU/ACP Microfinance Programme that offers financial sources in ACP countries.
A second option would be to develop African people’s skills. According to Michael Clemens, co-director of migration, displacement and humanitarian policy at the Center for global development, Europe should develop skills of African people in order to prepare them to migrate to Europe. Such programmes are mainly carried out through the Council of Development Bank – Aid for Refugees, migrants and displaced persons. According to Clemens, immigration cannot be avoided, so better having skilled migrants who can contribute to Europe’s development. One could also quote the Thematic Network on Migrants, a European platform aiming at reinforcing transnational cooperation on the question of migrants and refugees’ integration, part of the European Social Fund.
A third one would be to create a Marshall Plan for Africa. According to Mattias Tesfaye, the spokesperson on immigration and integration for the Danish Social Democrats, it is normal that in a world where inequality prevails, people search for better life elsewhere. With globalisation, this phenomena is enhanced. He thus suggests the creation of a Marshall plan for Africa, which, as the original Marshall plan, would consist of a loan programme granted to various African states in order to help them to develop. These loans would have the condition of importing an equivalent amount of European equipment and products. This kind of programme reminds us of the South Africa’s programme through the European Investment Bank – Financing the Republic of South Africa.
A last option would be to resolve conflicts in the Middle East. According to Pawel Adamowicz, mayor of Gdansk, Poland, Europe’s decision to pay Turkey to keep Syrian refugees is a short run strategy and repeating this method in Africa will not resolve the problem of immigration. Europe must instead face the real causes of migration by resolving conflicts in the Middle East. This has been undertaken through the concept of “resilience”, one of the first priorities of the EU in its relationship with its neighbours, main focus of the 2018-2020 years.
It looks like there could be many ways for Europe to tackle the challenge of immigration. Investing, developing skills, creating new financial tools… The solution could lay not only in distributing money but in doing it in an efficient way. Thus, the question is to know how this challenge will be translated in the upcoming programming period 2021-2027.