EU migration policy in Africa: new agreement with Niger


The European Council last December 15, which saw the first appearance of the new Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, was an opportunity for European leaders to discuss again on one of the common migration policy at EU level. Despite that there are still deep divisions on the reform of the Dublin system for the reception of migrants and relocation of new arrivals from countries like Italy and Greece, the European Council has still provided the opportunity to announce some important agreements on the external dimension of politics European migration.

In particular, the European Union has further deepened cooperation with Niger, a country crossed by the routes from West and Central lead to Libya and then to the Mediterranean. Niger is one of the priority countries identified by the new approach to migration developed in the last year by the European Commission and already the main beneficiary of the EU Emergency For Africa Trust Fund, a fund launched after the Summit of La Valletta in 2015, which funds projects aimed at tackling the root causes of migration directly in African countries.

The package agreed with Niger is constituted by different components. Firstly, the EU proclaimed a package amounting to 470 million euro to support the reforms and state-building actions in different areas of the Niger State activities: education, nutrition and food security, sustainable agriculture, infrastructure, democratic governance and promoting the rule of law. Given this support, the day before the European Council, had been approved three new projects financed by the EU Trust Fund, for a total of 35 million euro. With these new initiatives, projects financed by the Trust Fund in 2016 and specifically targeted at Niger rise to nine, for a total funding of 139.9 million euro.

The loans incurred by the Trust Fund are particularly significant because, at least in intention, aim to intervene with precision on the causes of migration flows, or in support of the institutions of the African countries that have to manage, while respecting human rights, the growing number of migrants who move across borders.

The agreement with Niger is part of a wider review of migration policy by the EU, which has grown in the last 12 months. In this regard, a few weeks ago, Luca Barana, working with the Piedmont Centre for African Studies, has conducted research on the use of the EU Trust Fund funds in Africa and the new EU migration policy at the European Council on Foreign Relations with the role of junior visiting fellow. We propose below the link to the original version of a deepening, drawn up with Mattia Toaldo, senior policy fellow, on the ECFR website.