In terms of migration, during the Euromed Survey fieldwork the debate in Europe focused on its management faced with the constant arrival of irregular migrants to eastern, central and western areas of the Euro-Mediterranean border.
This situation, mainly resulting from the flare-up of the war in Syria and the destabilisation of Libya, has brought about an increase in migration flows from Sub-Saharan Africa, which overlap with refugees fleeing war, whether in Syria or African countries such as Somalia or Eritrea.
“In the previous surveys, migration was considered to be more determining for the Euro- Mediterranean region than the conflict between Palestine and Israel.”
In late 2013 the Task Force Mediterranean (TFM) was established for short-term prevention of further deaths by drowning of people trying to reach Europe through the island of Lampedusa, strengthening the FRONTEX actions in the area. In the long term, the replacement of the Stockholm Programme (2010-2014) must set the guideline for the migration and mobility strategy. Under the name “An open and secure Europe: making it happen”, the European Commission has started working on this new programme. This document advocates continuity and enhancing cooperation with neighbouring countries and particularly fostering the implementation of the Mobility Partnerships.
In this framework, it is important to note that in the results of the previous surveys migration has always been present in three of the main future scenarios capable of influencing the reality of the region. Thus, respondents considered migration to be even more determining for the Euro- Mediterranean area than the ongoing open conflict between Palestine and Israel, or equally as relevant as the feared water scarcity conflicts.
“Mobility Partnerships should be revised and distanced from its conception too focused on the EU´s interest and further Mediterraneanised.”
Moreover, it should be added that the current management of the migration flows has an effect both on the northern and southern Mediterranean and the origin of most flows lies outside the neighbouring area, obliging a re-approach to its dimension beyond the framework established by the current European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and broadening the geographic concept of neighbourhood.
The results of the Survey on the Mobility Partnerships (the ENP programme to foster organised migration) follow this trend. In fact, as can be seen in graph 1, the assessment of its impact is more negative in southern than in northern countries, exceeding 50% of negative or very negative assessments (62% for the Maghreb and 52% for the Mashreq). It is especially relevant to observe this result for the Maghreb, given that the only two Mobility Partnerships signed until now have been with Morocco and Tunisia. Graph 1 also breaks down this result for the two respective countries and shows how the degree of knowledge about the programmes is considerably above the sample average. Moreover, they are assessed more negatively than the Survey and Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC) averages.
Consequently, if greater knowledge of the Mobility Partnerships results in a more negative assessment and there is a differential in the assessment between the north and the south, one should wonder whether, now that the next multiannual migration programme is being planned, it is necessary to revise this measure, distancing it from a conception too focused on the EU’s interest and try to further Mediterraneanise this strategy of organised migration.
Graph 1: Assessing the impact of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) measures on the Southern Mediterranean countries: Mobility Partnerships to enhance mobility and improve visa facilitation
Although in the long term migration management is seen as something that determines the future of relations in the Euro-Mediterranean area, its management, translated into EU policies in the short term, is not considered such a priority. The Survey reveals that, although migration and mobility enter the top 5 priorities (see graph 2), this list is headed by policies related to democratisation and creation of employment.
“Although in the long term migration management is seen as determining for the future Euro- Mediterranean relations, in the short term it is not considered by the EU such a priority.”
Graph 2: EU’s policies in the near future for the region: selecting policy areas according to its priority (5 areas considered to be 1st priority)
However, a detailed analysis of the results shows that in the responses from the EU, migration is the third priority, while in responses from the MPCs it occupies fifth position at a notable distance from the fourth. The cumulative percentage reflects a different ranking. Thus, for the MPCs the percentage of people who place migration and mobility in the 5 top priorities amounts to 40% while in EU countries it is 49%.
“EU respondents consider migration to be the third priority, while respondents from the Southern Mediterranean region rank it in fifth position.”
Graph 3: EU’s policies in the near future for the region: selecting MIgration and mobility policies according to its priority (cumulated % of responses choosing the priority of migration policies from first to fifth place, out of 11 policy options)
“The greater prioritisation from EU countries indicate that the implementation of an organised migration management is thought necessary, as it is the best measure to regulate irregular immigration.”
This greater prioritisation from EU countries can indicate that the Survey’s respondents consider it necessary to implement an organised scheme of migration management which, in the end, is the best preventive measure to regulate irregular immigration.