The European Commission failed to explain during the African Union-European Union Summit how it wants to make sure that the European Development Goals are not just a reward for migration control agenda while it was outlining Europe’s new development policy.
According to some observers, European development money is very likely going to be channeled to places where migration numbers can be tamed fast – countries like Niger, Eritrea, Sudan or Mali. Development experts have been warning for a long time that the true solutions to migration and development are the free movement of goods, intra-African liberalization and labor migration coupled with visa regulations. All of these could, however, be easily dashed by the EU’s efforts to strengthen intra-African borders.
If Brussels succeeds in creating “Fortress Europe” on the African continent, the European migration defense would be just a branch of the development policy across Africa. What is, however, more important, is the European External Investment Plan (EEIP) decoupled from EU migration policies and a report by Counter Balance non-profit concludes that it really targets the true development needs.
The EU Parliament in contrast thinks that ‘regional integration’ is the magic bullet. Before the EU-AU summit, it adopted with great majority the EU-Africa Strategy, which proposes the creation of a continental free trade zone to increase inner-African trade by 50% until 2050. In order to achieve that, effective escape clauses, protection for developing branches and asymmetrical liberalization plans are vitally needed. The EU is one of the biggest Aid for Trade donors globally. In 2015 alone, it gave away an annual record amount of €13.16 billion. The Aid for Trade strategy seeks to coordinate and combine already present tools for development financing at the European and national level.