18 October 2016, Brussels – Remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference on the progress under the Migration Partnership Framework
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Today the College adopted the first report on the implementation of the Partnership Framework Communication. We have established this partnership with five priority countries in Africa as you know: Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal and Ethiopia. The communication was tabled by the Commission in June; was endorsed by the June European Council and the European Council tasked me to carry forward the work bringing together the European Commission, the European External Action Service and the Member States in a coordinated and coherent manner.
This is the first occasion we have to report both on process and also on the first results we have obtained. And let me say that we shared some elements of this already yesterday with the Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg and with Home Affairs Ministers last week at the Council.
Now on the process: we have established a close coordination system with Member States and within the European Commission, so full coordination, full ownership of all EU institutions and all EU Member States. We established a Sherpa network of Member States and within the Commission I set up a project team of Commissioners and Vice-Presidents covering all the different areas of work that we need to mobilise in view of building these partnerships. A similar coordination has started on the ground around the EU Delegations in the five countries where we have started to work with Member States Embassies and Member States are reinforcing EU Delegations with dedicated European migration liaison officers in these countries.
In these few months since we started, we have done in a coordinated manner ten visits of the highest possible political level to establish these partnerships in the field of migration. This means that both Commissioners and Ministers of Member States alike have been travelling and bringing forward the EU message, a common EU message and a common EU work – again, as I said, both Commissioners and Foreign Ministers. The approach has been very well received by our partners and rightly so, because we moved from an old kind of approach to a mutually benefiting win-win partnership, so it is a new way of engaging: a two-way partnership where each side has its own responsibilities and we look at the best possible ways in which we can, together, manage a complex phenomenon.
Since we started a total of 59 programmes for the amount of €927 million have been adopted. A total of 24 projects funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa, representing over €425 million will have been launched in the five priority countries by the end of this year. This means an acceleration of the use of the Trust Fund, this has led us – the Commission – to propose and agree with Member States a further increase by €500 million for the Trust Fund for Africa in order to ensure that we have sufficient resources available to run the projects that have been identified.
The core objectives of these partnerships and the projects are first of all saving lives. It is the priority number one for the European Union. Second: disrupting the smuggling networks, we do it in different ways; open regular channels for migration and work on return of migrants who have arrived in Europe without title to stay in the Europe, so in an irregular way.
We are starting to see the very first operational results on the ground. I guess you will find in the package more details and I understand we have a technical briefing this afternoon as well, but on the first operational results on the ground, I will just mention a few examples.
In Agadez, in Niger, we have encouraging data in terms of decreases in the transit of migrants, increases in assisted voluntary returns and what I think is going to be the real game changer, arrest of smugglers and traffickers which helps us dismantling the networks of criminal organisations of trafficking of human beings. So the first results are coming on the ground and let me remind us all that Agadez is the place where most of the flow entering into Libya that enter Europe through the Central Mediterranean route is going through.
In Mali and Senegal we are working mainly on addressing the root causes of migration through targeted projects, to improve governance through the strengthening of the civil registry systems and to increase return rates. In Nigeria we will start very soon negotiations on a readmission agreement and we are working to address the root causes that are leading population movements in one of the largest countries of Africa.
In Ethiopia there is a worrying political situation that is developing and that we are following closely. We are continuing in this moment to lend our support to a country that has been hosting and is still hosting over 700.000 refugees having difficult economic and social conditions. We are doing so by promoting employment opportunities both for refugees and for local communities alike. These are programmes which – by the way, I visited myself one of those that we financed previously already – are particularly beneficial because, obviously, it is migration which is tackled but also a sustainable development of the country as such.
All in all, again, in these last four months we have set up a system which is innovative in itself because the process has for the first time gathered together the European Commission, the European External Action Service, and the Member States, with a full ownership of all Member States, and in a coordinated manner among institutions. So it is Europe, European Union as its best in terms of mobilising all our tools together, in a coordinated manner, and first results starting to come.
Obviously, we know very well that this is not a short term engagement. We also know very well that there is no quick fix to this – so it is about laying the ground for results, more results, to come in the future and most of all, to make it sustainable for the countries of origin and transit.
We count on reaching full cruising speed by December this year. I forgot to say; obviously this will be a report that we will present to the European Council the day after tomorrow and Friday. This is the first progress report, we will come back to a further report in December but you know very well that beyond December we will have to continue our joint work in institutions, Member States and our partners, well beyond that moment.
A part of our long term engagement, I would like just to mention that, is the proposal for the European Investment Plan that I presented with Vice-President Katainen and Vice-President Georgieva just one month ago in Strasbourg and that is proceeding, we hope it can lead to swift conclusion and launching of projects soon.
So, our assessment is that more has been obtained in these few months than in the past several years, and that especially we have established a framework to work in a productive, constructive, respectful manner with our partners, in partnership, ownership and shared responsibility with our partners and with the Member States.
By the way, this is also the core principle that was the core of the Valletta summit last year and also that we were bringing forward at the United Nations General Assembly in September while defining the Global Compact on migration. I will stop here and be ready to answer to your questions. Thank you.
Link to the video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I127952
More information on the report and the Migration Partnerships can be found here: http://eeas.europa.eu/topics/migration-partnership_en
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