Concrete progress has been made under the Partnership Framework with third countries on migration, as presented in the second progress report today by the European Commission. The partnerships between the European Union and its Member States' and with the five priority countries, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal have been deepened and further developed.
"The Partnership Framework is showing positive results and important building blocks for new cooperation on migration management have been agreed. Since the first report in October, further steps have been taken, and we will continue the joint EU and Member States engagement to build on the current momentum," said High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini. The European Council is expected to assess the progress made under the Partnership Framework on 15 December.
Over the last months, 20 high level visits by the HR/VP, a number of EU Commissioners and Member States' ministers took place, backed by several missions at technical level. Financial assistance to support the objectives of the Valletta Action Plan has been stepped up, with an additional €500 million added to the EU Trust Fund for Africa. This brings its worth to almost €2.5 billion. To date, 64 programmes, worth approximately EUR 1 billion have already been approved under the EU Trust Fund for Africa. To increase the impact of other instruments, EUR 726.7 million will be added to the EU budget in 2017 to further support the development actions in the external dimension of migration.
Results in the priority countries are taking shape, including first decreases in migratory flows. In Niger, the number of people crossing the desert has dropped from 70,000 in May to 1,500 in November. In addition,102 smugglers have been sent to justice and 95 vehicles have been seized. 4430 irregular migrants have been repatriated with the assistance of IOM and around 2700 irregular migrants from the priority countries have been returned from the EU to their respective countries of origin. European Migration Liaison Officers will be deployed to all five priority countries in early 2017. In parallel, 1165 mobility actions under the Erasmus+ framework have been financed with the priority countries to strengthen legal and regular migration channels.
In the next months, the full potential of the Partnership Framework will be further exploited. Building on the first results, the EU will continue to address migration in all its aspects during the implementation of the Partnership Framework to ensure a sustainable process, in line with the commitments made under the Valletta Action Plan of November 2015.
Migration is an important component of the European Union's external action, as set out in the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy. Developing more effective migration policies for Europe and its partners is a priority. Steps in this regard were taken through the Valletta Summit on Migration with African countries in November 2015. In June 2016, the HRVP and the Commission proposed a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration, which was endorsed by the European Council the same month. The Partnership Framework aims at stepping up cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination. The Council called for the swift implementation of the framework, starting with a limited number of priority countries.
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