The EU and African partners have launched today two Team Europe Initiatives (TEI) focused on the Atlantic/Western Mediterranean and the Central Mediterranean migratory routes to ensure joint efforts by Member States and the EU addressing the migration challenges that the EU and its partners of North Africa are confronted with due to the upsurge of irregular flows and abuse by smuggling networks. The initiatives will contribute to implementing the external dimension of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum and combine Member States’ activities with cooperation and coordination at the EU level through a whole-of-route approach.
A whole-of route approach to address migration
The two initiatives bring together African and European countries of origin, transit, and destination. It will create new opportunities for coordination with partner countries, international partners, and relevant UN Agencies The TEI for the Central Mediterranean Route will support the roll out of operational actions to manage migration under the EU Action Plan for the Central Mediterranean.
These initiatives foresee stepping up joint work on the five priority domains of the Joint Valletta Action Plan, which aims to support African and European partners by enhancing migration governance:
- Prevention of irregular migration, countering smuggling and trafficking in human beings: Over the past year there has been substantial progress in addressing irregular arrivals, human trafficking, and smuggling networks; however, irregular flows continue putting migrants at risk and confronting the EU with serious migration challenges. The EU will develop and implement a new regional programme to fight against the smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of human beings in North Africa. In July, the Commission launched the first anti-smuggling operational partnerships with Morocco and Niger, following the renewed EU action plan against migrant smuggling 2021-2025. The mandates for negotiation of Frontex status agreements with Senegal and Mauritania are the first with partner countries in Africa, and aim to support border management, fight migrant smuggling, and reduce irregular migration on the Atlantic route. A working arrangement between Frontex and the Common Security and Defence Policy mission EUCAP Sahel Niger is already in place.
- Legal migration and mobility: The Team Europe Initiatives will support partner countries in building an enabling environment for the development and promotion of legal migration and mobility pathways. They can contribute to the development of Talent Partnerships. Two to three million non-EU nationals already come legally to the EU every year. The Skills and Talent package adopted in April 2022 aims to address labour market needs linked to current demographic trends and skill shortages in the EU. The package includes legal, operational and policy initiatives, such as the Talent Partnerships. Talent Partnerships are mobility schemes for work or training at all skill levels, anchored in broader cooperation on migration management. We are working on accelerating the implementation of these tailor-made partnerships starting with Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. The reduction of irregular migration will pave the way for more legal pathways.
- Protection: The Team Europe Initiatives will support partner countries in ensuring protection, resilience and self-reliance, including life-saving assistance, to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees The EU is an active member of the regional support platforms launched at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum, providing political and financial support, through humanitarian assistance and development cooperation. Resettlement is an integral part of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. 66% of the EUTF has been devoted to the protection of migrants and their access to the basic services. The EU has recently launched two important protection actions for migrants in Egypt and Libya. The EU contributes a sizeable part to global resettlement efforts and is committed to maintaining this commitment. The 2021-2022 pledging exercise resulted in almost 65 000 pledges in total, combining resettlement and, for the first time, humanitarian admission. The EU will prioritise the implementation of the Regional Development and Protection Programme in North Africa and Niger to strengthen the protection capacity of national institutions for registration, refugee status determination and referral mechanisms, reception, durable solutions as well as norms, strategies, and operating procedures.
- Return, readmission and sustainable reintegration: Effective return and readmission are an essential aspect of relations on migration management. The EU has launched major projects to promote voluntary returns and reintegration for North Africa and in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration continued to respond to the needs of stranded and vulnerable migrants in African countries. Frontex will support return operations, as well as actions aimed at reintegration support through development programming while supporting national ownership and capacities in partner countries of origin in cooperation with international organisations.
- Migration and development: EU development cooperation has both a medium- and long-term impact on addressing the structural root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement. Actions in areas such as good governance, conflict prevention and climate mitigation, as well as socio-economic development and livelihood opportunities, can have a direct consequence for migration. Through the Global Gateway, the EU is contributing to narrowing the global investment gap, supporting global economic recovery and accompanying the twin green and digital transitions in partner countries.
The Central Mediterranean Route TEI brings together the European Commission and the European External Action Service, along with Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, as well as on the African side, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Niger, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Nigeria. So far, the EU, its Member States and Switzerland agreed to mobilise €1.13 billion to work on the five pillars of the initiative with its African partners.
The Atlantic/Western Mediterranean Route TEI will be taken forward by the European Commission and the European External Action Service, with Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, which have so far mobilised €908 million to support cooperation with Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria.
The first meetings to take forward the coordination of actions under the two TEIs will take place in the margins of the Rabat Process Ministerial Conference on 14 December in Cádiz, Spain. They will involve senior officials from the European Commission, European External Action Service, EU Member States, and relevant African partners.
In the framework of the Extraordinary JHA Council on 25 November, the Commission has committed to support the Member States with operational solutions to address immediate and ongoing challenges along all migratory routes. At the same time, the New Pact on Migration and Asylum remains the only way to put in place a stable and sustainable framework to address migratory challenges. So far, the Commission has proposed two Action Plans, one on the Central Mediterranean and the most recently on the Western Balkans. The launch of the Team Europe initiative is a first deliverable of the EU Action Plan on the Central Mediterranean, proposed by the Commission on 21 November.
The launch of these initiatives follows the EU-AU Summit of February 2022 that highlighted migration and mobility as a shared political priority of both continents in the EU-AU Joint vision for 2030.