Brussels, 20 November 2006
The EU meets the entire African continent in Tripoli to launch a partnership on migration and development
The first Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development between the EU and the entire African continent will take place on 22 and 23 November in Tripoli. On this occasion, the EU and Africa will agree to work together in a spirit of mutual partnership and shared responsibility to manage migration more effectively for the benefit of the two continents. The Conference should be seen in the context of the comprehensive approach to migration that the European Union is developing. It aims to make migration meet the interests and priorities of countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as migrants themselves, by fostering partnerships with third countries and international organisations and bringing together the various policy areas that are relevant to migration, such as good governance, human rights and development policies. Vice-President Frattini, responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security and Commissioner Louis Michel, responsible for Development Policy and Humanitarian will particpate.
Following events in Ceuta and Melilla in September 2005, Heads of State and Government met at Hampton Court, discussed the challenges of migration and concluded that there is an urgent need for more action, both among Member States and in partnership between the EU and countries of origin and transit, in particular North and Sub-Saharan Africa.
In response the Commission issued a Communication, Priority actions for responding to the challenges of migration, on 30 November 2005. This document set out a comprehensive approach to migration with a series of immediate, practical actions to be taken forward in partnership with source and transit countries.
Building on the Commission’s Communication, the European Council adopted the Global Approach to Migration: Priority actions focusing on Africa and the Mediterranean in its Conclusions of 16 December 2005, and called upon the Commission to report on progress made in this area in one year time. The Commission will respond to this call on 30 November by issuing a new Communication, including an annex of actions undertaken so far.
The 2005 European Conclusions constituted a list of actions to be implemented in 2006. This ambitious agenda envisaged priority actions in three areas: strengthening cooperation and action between Member States; working with key countries of origin in Africa; and working with neighbouring countries in the Mediterranean region.
An EU-Africa Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development (covering the entire continent) was one of these priority actions. In December 2005 at the EU-Africa Ministerial Troika meeting held in Bamako, it was agreed to launch a dialogue on migration issues, to be seen in a comprehensive way as covering issues of social cohesion, economic integration and development. It was also agreed to organise a joint ministerial Conference dedicated to migration in 2006. Libya offered to host the Conference.
In April 2006, in an expert meeting held in Algiers, the African Union (AU) defined a common position on migration and development as preparation for the ministerial conference. This common position was endorsed by the AU Summit, held on 1-2 July in Banjul.
The 7th EU-Africa Ministerial Troika Meeting held in Brazzaville on 10 October 2006 welcomed the offer by Libya to host the Africa-EU Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development and agreed that the Conference should be held on 22-23 November in Tripoli. Ministers also agreed that the outcome of the Conference should be a joint Africa-EU Declaration that is substantial and action oriented with an appropriate Follow-up Mechanism. The Declaration will cover the range of migration issues, including legal and illegal migration, migration and development and refugee protection, as well as wider issues of peace and security and human rights. The Conference will also adopt the Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, especially women and children.
The Tripoli conference is wider in scope that the Ministerial Conference on migration and development held in Rabat in July. The Rabat conference brought together EU Member States with a number of African countries of origin and transit in North, West and Central Africa, in the aim of identifying joint action on migration along specific migratory routes. It also took a comprehensive approach by focusing on a range of issues including migration and development, legal migration, and combating illegal migration and trafficking in human beings.