An approach based on full cooperation with African countries and respect for human rights in tackling the refugee flows into the EU has the full support of civil society from both continents. However, it is necessary to act now: «An action plan is not enough, it is important to equip it with the necessary funding and improve coordination and cooperation«. These were the main messages of the 2nd meeting of the EU-Africa Socio-Economic Actors Network in Brussels, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee on 27-28 October.
The EESC welcomed Civil Society representatives from African States, members of European economic and social councils and partner organisations as well as representatives from the European institutions and international organisations to discuss the main challenges and find common solutions to the refugee crisis. The 2nd meeting of the EU-Africa Socio-Economic Actors Network ended with a joint resolution outlining proposals which mainly focused on three issues:
First, the fight against migrant smuggling and the strengthening of police and judicial cooperation as outlined in the EU’s action plan. Participants stressed the importance of adequate funding, the need for closer cooperation between the two continents and the urge to punish traffickers, not the migrants themselves. The setting up of safe humanitarian corridors and support to civil society organisations providing assistance to migrants on the ground were also highlighted.
Second, addressing the root causes for migration: The economic and social stakeholders in the EU-Africa network endorse the proposal of setting up an Emergency Trust Fund for Africa but insist on a real partnership between the countries for the implementation of this Fund. The goals defined by the Sustainable Development Objectives will need to frame the actions to be taken in this area.
Third, facilitating legal migration and mobility: Participants identified human rights, solidarity and real cooperation as the principles that should underlie legal migration policies and actions. Also, the ILO directives on labour migration have to be upheld, and social partners included in the implementation of agreements.
The adopted declaration will be forwarded to the EU and African Heads of State and Government that will meet at the Valletta Summit on 11-12 November in order to make them aware of the willingness of economic and social actors to cooperate in the resolution of the refugee crisis and in the shared management of migratory flows. As the crisis is already showing today, without the involvement of citizens and organised civil society, no sustainable solutions will be possible.