CONCORD in the news: Letter to Editors initially published in POLITICO, written by Davide Gnes and Fanni Bihari.
Recently, a piece entitled “How Europe can stop migration” was published in POLITICO. Even from the title, migration is presented as a problem to be managed or a threat to be contained, and foreign investment is seen as the perfect panacea to keep African migrants at home.
We think differently.
Much of the current migration from developing countries to Europe — when not responding to immediate threats such as conflict, political persecution, famine and instability — is just a symptom, among many, of the massive social and economic gap that exists between certain regions of the world.
It is not by chance that the only explicit reference to migration governance in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is under the goal of reducing inequalities within and among countries. This aspect is often just paid lip service in current political discussions.
Nowadays, however, relations between the European Union and third countries seem to be driven by our fear of immigration. Current EU investment plans and proposals for EU-Africa alliances on investment and job creation can have a positive impact, but only if they are not simply another way to maintain the European economic grip over African countries. They must instead lead to the creation of sustainable partnerships, decent jobs and long-term sustainable local economies.
Europe’s obsession with sealing its borders is not likely to reduce migratory pressure; on the contrary, it will even impact African regional mobility negatively, creating long-term problems that will sustain dependence on aid and drive people to flee their homes.
“Precious efforts and resources are being diverted from genuine development objectives to migration management and border control, as the last European Council conclusions confirm,” said Italian MEP Elly Schlein. “The tendency of using development to address in the short term the so-called ‘root causes of migration’ is not only flawed, but is also jeopardizing the essence of our development policy and the relations with our African partners.”
Europe should not try to stop migration from Africa but rather recognize that migrants and diaspora are already contributing to the development of both their countries of origin and the country they move to. A viable alternative would be to regulate movement toward the EU by offering more safe and legal migration routes to ensure the respect of fundamental rights and avoid more deaths at the border.