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Andris Piebalgs

European Commissioner for Development

Closing remarks on the occasion of the Launch event of the ACP Observatory on Migration

ACP Observatory on Migration

Brussels, 27 October 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to be here and to address this distinguished audience, to launch the ACP Observatory on Migration.

Today we are witnessing very tangible result of long lasting cooperation between EU and ACP – establishment of ACP Observatory on Migration. Dialogue on migration and development issues has indeed gained in importance during the last five years with a number of political dialogue meetings on migration taking place, on the basis of article 13 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. This has been reaffirmed and strengthened on the occasion of the last Joint ACP-EU Council, with the adoption of a Joint Declaration on Migration and Development.

Observatory on Migration will be an important new tool for ACP to benefit. By facilitating the analysis of concrete and reliable data on migration, it will allow national and regional authorities to formulate and implement economical and development policies taking into account such important issue like migration. It is important to stress that Observatory will encompass large geographical area involved in migration phenomenon globally.

Migration is not a new phenomenon. And it is wrong to think that it would disappear some time soon. It is something to be aware of and to manage properly to avoid unpredictable outcomes.

The tasks related to observation of migration are immense. Figures provided by International Organisation on Migration speak for themselves.

214 million estimated international migrants worldwide – it means 3,1% of world's population and would constitute the fifth most populous country in the world and 49% of them are women.

Figures are helpful for us to try to imagine magnitude of the processes related to the migration, but let us remember that there are real people behind them and concrete reasons why people have chosen to migrate.

Today I would like to touch shortly upon few of the factors determining migration today and in decades to come.

First – migration is influenced by economic growth of developed and emerging countries as well as economical activities in the regions. It would be influenced also by exploration of energy and other mineral resources across African continent creating significant economic and financial impact. No doubt the trends of important commodity prices could influence this process as well.

Secondly – we are more and more confronted with migratory tendencies to urban areas. Today cities all over the world are facing dramatic increase of migrant population as a source of increasing poverty. I think that Migratory Observatory would need to analyse these phenomena and come up with indications on the root causes of this problem and potential ways to address it.

Thirdly – modern world and ACP in particular will be influenced by climate change and no doubt – this process could become a significant source of migration or lead to the quite many internally displaced persons all over the world. Climate change and migratory flows related to that could become very important issue for the Observatory in the years to come – either in Africa, Caribbean or Pacific – all those regions will have be influenced in one or the other way.

Fourthly –risks of instability will continue to be one of the major sources for migratory flows. There I see a special role for the Observatory as an institution to signal at a very early stage potential conflicts and scale of migratory flows. It is important for development community to be aware of this information and to be prepared to act.

Fifthly – population disbalances - depopulation of developed countries and increasing population elsewhere will continue to influence people's minds to find ways to migrate using legal or illegal means. There again figures help us to describe potential magnitude of current and future processes - in the world we will be 7 billion human beings by mid-2012 and over 9 billion by 2045. That same year: Africa will have 1.9 billion inhabitants. But without immigration the EU would loose as many as 48 million of its working population till 2050. This process should be looked also from other perspective known as 'brain drain' or a loss of skilled people and would significantly undermine bases for development of ACP economies. An accurate vision of the situation is to be provided by the Observatory to governments and regional authorities in order to could develop policies aiming at limiting this process.

Last but not least - migration could help us to give a second thought to remittances and influence it has on the economical impact for families, villages, regions, cities or even entire countries.  It makes sense to learn about the amount of money being remitted from abroad. For instance, some researches suggest that in 2009, estimated 414 billion USD of remittances where sent home by migrants and approximately 316 billion USD where sent to developing countries. It should be mentioned that formal and informal remittances could constitute comparative amount of finance with official development aid.

Therefore, by analysing data Observatory could consider recommendations for governments to develop tools and methods to ease the transfers of remittances and promote their use in a way that can widespread benefits for individuals as well as for local community.

As described - processes related to migration include different factors and challenges involved require a better understanding of the phenomenon as well as an efficient management by political leaders in the countries of origin and in countries of destination. Analyses and recommendations produced by Observatory will need to find their way to relevant political level in order to translate them into concrete policies so that ACP citizens truly benefit from them.

I would like to wish the Observatory to start their activities successfully in achieving its objectives for benefit of ACP as well as European citizens.

Thank you for your attention.

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