Judith Sargentini opened the meeting with a few remarks. She complemented the timing of the report, as migration is currently a much debated topic in Europe. This week, the Council of Foreign Affairs agreed on a naval operation in the Mediterranean to disrupt human smugglers and traffickers. The heads of states of the EU will discuss migration during the European Council. Sargentini appreciated that the report refers to articles of the Lisbon Treaty, which has Policy Coherence for Development enshrined.
Suzan Cornelissen (Policy officer FMS) and Linde-Kee van Stokkum (Researcher FMS) presented the results of the impact study and its policy recommendations, and stressed that the Mobility Partnership could be made a better tool for development. The research has shown that the Mobility Partnership the EU closed with Cape Verde is predominantly used as an instrument to fight irregular migration, through border control management and readmission agreements. The report concludes that corrective action is needed to ensure EU Mobility Partnerships address migration as an instrument for the development of partner countries. Click here to read the full impact study to learn more.
Next, Dr. André Corsino Tolentino reacted to the outcomes of the report. Dr. Tolentino has served as Foreign Minister of Cape Verde and as Ambassador to Portugal, Spain Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy. Dr. Tolentino stressed the importance of migration to Cape Verde. He explained that for Cape Verdeans, migration is not an external phenomenon but part of daily politics. Those Cape Verdeans living abroad are still a part of Cape Verdean society and have an influence on its society, not only through remittances but also through the transfer of knowledge and ideas. Commenting on the impact study, Dr. Tolentino remarked that the Mobility Partnership needs more institutional support and more budget support. He also called for more cooperation between civil society organisations in Cape Verde and civil society organisations in the EU; this would be beneficial to Cape Verde.
MEP Kati Piri (S&D, member of the LIBE committee) was the next speaker. In Europe migration has a negative connotation she said, this is in stark contrast with the perception in Cape Verde, where migration is seen as positive. A Mobility Partnership should generate mutual benefits from the cooperation on migration and development. However, because the EU focuses on security and defence measures, the EU misses out on a chance to cooperate on migration in a positive way and to address development. Kati Piri argued that the EU needs to focus on a holistic approach to migration based on solidarity, and to address the link between security, mobility and development.
Mr. Octavio Gomes, counselor of Embassy of Cape Verde, also remarked that Cape Verde is a country of immigration. He focussed on the partnership between the EU Commission and Cape Verde. The Commission need to evaluate the activities under the Mobility Partnership and there is a need for more budget support.
After these reactions a representative of the European Commission, DG Migration and Home Affairs, was given the opportunity to react on the results of the study. He welcomed the recommendations but showed a difference of opinion. He said that the Mobility Partnership is not a development tool, but a migration management tool. The aim of agreeing an Mobility Partnership is to try and identify common interests between two countries. He disagreed that the EU only enters into a Mobility Partnership to fight irregular migration, as Cape Verde is also interested in border management.
Another MEP present, Ana Gomes (S&D, member of LIBE committee), gave a short reaction, after having heard all the speakers. Cape Verde is a democratic country, she remarked, and this makes a huge difference. In practice, the Mobility Partnership is used by the government of Cape Verde as a tool for development, as the government wants to work towards the development of the country and the wellbeing of its people. The EU enters into partnership with oppressive governments who fabricate migrants (Khartoum Process) and this is wrong. Positive examples like Cape Verde should be rewarded by the EU, if the EU wants to be consistent and coherent, she concluded.
Suzan and Linde-Kee again stressed that regular migration is a tool for development but opportunities for regular migration are still scarce. The Mobility Partnership can function as an important tool for development but concrete actions, both at EU level and in Member States, are needed to make this happen.
It became clear that the discussion on migration and development and the role of the Mobility Partnership will continue. The FMS continues to follow the developments of the EU Agenda on Migration and calls for the migration and development nexus to become an inherent part of EU migration and development policies.
Would you like to read the impact study? Click here!
Images: European Parliament