While EU member states and citizens debate the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, it is clear that migration has been, is and will continue to be an integral part of the relations between African and European countries.
A ‘strong external dimension’ takes a pride of place in the Pact and ‘migration diplomacy’ will most probably be deployed as a tool of first choice to persuade (sometimes coerce) governments to agree to keep people in countries of origin and transit.
This blog assesses African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) ‘migration diplomacy’ with a focus on the African perspective to think through implications for policy, governance and international cooperation. We present a 9-point checklist to assess developments so far, and suggest a direction for future travel that recognises that an efficient and sustainable migration governance architecture is unthinkable without the active participation of national and local authorities and local communities in African countries.
1. Strategic migration governance
Migration diplomacy has so far not led to strategic migration governance in Africa. Current African approaches to migration tend to lack a clear and comprehensive policy direction. Instead, there is a focus on the criminal justice system, with the emphasis on irregular migration, refugees, and the prosecution of traffickers and smugglers. A more strategic approach can help shift away from migration management through legislation to migration governance and potentially address the securitization of borders, the criminal approach to most of migration related public work and an undue focus on the negative aspects of migration.