Today, the Commission presents its first progress report on the implementation of the Partnership Framework with third countries to more effectively manage migration together. Four months after the Commission proposed this new Framework under the European Agenda on Migration and its endorsement by the June European Council, which also called for its swift implementation, the EU's new partnership approach with countries of origin and transit of migration is starting to yield results.
President Juncker said: "Europe needs to do more to tackle the tragedy of thousands of migrants and refugees that every year cross the Mediterranean, fleeing from poverty, war and persecution. That is the spirit of the New Partnership Framework approach we have launched in June – and today's First Progress Report shows that this new approach works, in the interest of both the EU and partner countries. Now the task is to step up our efforts and deliver a lasting change in the way we manage mobility and migration with our partners in Africa and the neighbourhood".
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: "Migration is a global issue that concerns our internal policies and our external relations, but most of all it concerns the lives of millions of people. And it has to be managed in a coordinated, sustainable, jointly responsible and human way. The Partnership Framework approach we have put in place four months ago goes exactly in this direction: it is a two way process based on shared interests and a common work that has already brought first results. Tackling the root causes of migration, ensuring adequate protection for people on the move, reducing the number of irregular migrants as well as improving cooperation on return and readmission, fighting smugglers and traffickers of human beings, are all integral parts of the common work we have started to develop with our partners."
The Partnership Framework is a forward-looking European approach to deepening cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination. Since June, under the leadership of the High Representative/Vice-President, EU institutions and Member States have jointly put substantial efforts into making this new approach a success. Work to address short-term solutions to immediate migration pressure, as well as deeper investment to tackling the root causes of irregular migration has started with five priority countries: Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia. Thanks to the coordinated action of all sides involved, the EU and its Member States, the collective work is starting to bear fruit and is resulting in tangible outcomes.
The coordinated approach between the EU institutions and Member states that was activated after the adoption of the Communication, has led to a step change in the level of coordination and strategic joint planning.
High-level visits to priority countries have been conducted by a number of EU Commissioners and Member States political leaders backed by technical missions of senior officials of EU institutions and Member States. Through these visits a better understanding of EU and partner countries' priorities and a greater willingness to cooperate is being established. Furthermore, the Commission has proposed key initiatives such as the External Investment Plan to encourage investment in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood and the proposal for a Union Resettlement Framework to ensure orderly and safe pathways to Europe for persons in need of international protection.
The first results can already be seen in the priority countries. Niger has taken action to combat migrant smuggling and set up an institutional framework for managing the migration dialogue with the EU and its Member States. Strengthened operational cooperation is being put in place with Senegal and Mali, with identification missions agreed for the coming weeks. Standard Operating Procedures with Mali are being finalised. Negotiations on a Readmission Agreement with Nigeria will open in the coming days. Actions with other partners countries has continued and will be further intensified in the coming months. The EU has stepped up its support through its CSDP Missions, its technical assistance and financial tools, in particular the EU Trust Fund for Africa. Under the EU Trust Fund for Africa, contracts in support of the actions foreseen in the Valletta Action Plan were signed for almost €400 million. In Niger, the EU is providing support through the new field office of EUCAP Sahel Niger in Agadez, and by addressing the root causes of irregular migration. In Nigeria, the EU Trust Fund for Africa has mobilised projects addressing specific migration management issues. Projects creating jobs for youth have been adopted under the EU Trust Fund for Africa in Senegal. Also in Mali and Ethiopia a number of projects have been approved.
The next months will see continued common action on the external side, matched by improvement of procedures and operations inside the European Union. European Migration Liaison Officers will be posted in key third countries to serve as focal points in EU Delegations to liaise and cooperate with our partners and support the delivery of the new approach. Identification missions to the priority countries will be carried out jointly with Member States and EU agencies' involvement, in particular of European Border and Coast Guards and EUROPOL, on the ground will be strengthened. Specific projects under the EU Trust Fund for Africa, are being finalised to address key challenges in the priority countries. The Commission has further adopted a decision to increase the EU Trust Fund for Africa by a further € 500 million from the European Development Fund reserve to finance actions under the partnership framework.
As set out in the Bratislava roadmap, progress on this new approach will be assessed by the European Council in December.
External action is a crucial component of the comprehensive EU strategy to manage the migration challenge set out in the European Agenda for on Migration. The factors driving migration flows today are here to stay, requiring a long term response. The European Union has taken a key step through the Valletta Summit in November 2015. In June 2016, the Commission proposed a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration. The June 2016 European Council endorsed the Partnership Framework and called for its swift implementation, starting with a limited number of countries. In September, the Bratislava roadmap underlined that this process should "lead to reduced flows of illegal migration and increased return rates", and recalled that progress would be assessed by the European Council in December.
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