The revision of the ENP has been carried out in a critical year for migration management in the Mediterranean. The humanitarian crisis resulting from the war in Syria and the instability of the region have caused an increasing flow of refugees to the EU, who, faced with the impossibility of entering community territory though regular channels have turned to those traditionally used by irregular migrations in the centre and east of the Mediterranean. The situation of control and blockade on the borders has made it clear that the EU’s migration agenda in relation to the southern neighbourhood has been shaped with excessive dominance of the security dimension and improvisation.
“The situation at the borders has made it clear that the EU’s migration agenda in relation to the southern neighbourhood has been shaped with excessive dominance of the security dimension.”
Today, the overlapping of migration flows with those of refugees demands a complex analysis of the current situation and also shared ways of managing them, given that only from a common European approach can the current situation be effectively resolved.
It is clear that the current humanitarian emergency context, in addition to the debate about control and security, has influenced the process of revising the ENP in its migration field, and therefore should allow for an order of priorities to be re-established in order to design improved management of human movements and migrations at regional level.
“The current humanitarian emergency context, in addition to the debate about control and security, has influenced the process of revising the ENP in its migration field.”
In this respect, the Joint Staff Working Document that accompanies the document Review of the ENP highlights three elements that require special attention. Firstly, within the field of ENP interaction with other policies, “a greater consistency between internal and external strands of EU policy in migration” becomes necessary. Secondly, and more at the level of design and implementation of policies, it notes that “the challenges in the field of migration can be more appropriately addressed in collaboration of ENP countries and its neighbours.” Finally, also an element of design and implementation, it calls for “the ENP to be used as a framework for addressing more effectively the root causes of the issue in partner countries.”
These three elements are connected to current debates linking migration management and the ENP review. First debate is the need to clearly and effectively integrate the ENP “in the overall migration architecture of the EU, linking Home and Foreign Affairs.” Second debate is related to promote a transregional approach, that is, taking into consideration the regions adjacent to the southern neighbourhood (especially the Sahel-Sahara arc of crisis). Finally the third debate is closely linked to the latter, is about the effective action on the primary causes of migrations and how to influence them.
“Factors related to the management that affect the causes of emigration receive a higher percentage of responses stressing their importance over elements linked to management aimed at establishing orderly mobility.”
To some extent, these three elements go back to the need for coordination with the external agenda, especially with the southern neighbourhood countries (and their respective neighbours) to act on the root causes of migrations. These elements can also be seen in the results of the Euromed Survey, and would explain why those factors related to the management that affect the causes of emigration receive a higher percentage of responses stressing their importance over elements linked to management aimed at establishing orderly mobility (see graph 1).
Graph 1: To what extent should ENP actions/policies to enhance orderly migration and promote mobility focus on?
In the Survey’s open answers we can see an element that enables another dimension to be added, time, which summarises the current framework and the policies to be implemented to manage it: “the EU is facing massive migration due to political instability and lack of economic opportunity. Thus addressing state fragility (political and economic) should be a priority in the long term. In the short term bilateral agreements and tools can help but won’t be sustainable anyway.”
These answers suggest that there are two logics simultaneously influencing the approach to manage human movements in the region. In the long term, action is needed on political and economic security, basic for tackling the primary causes of emigration. In the short term, we must act immediately with efficient tools and keep in mind that these would be temporary solutions that are unlikely to be long-lasting. It is clear that in both aspects the ENP can and must act more efficiently.
Another dimension that must not be forgotten and can also affect the revised ENP is the division between the partner states when addressing this situation. After the agreement to urgently relocate 160,000 refugees in Italy, Greece and Hungary, approved in the extraordinary Home Affairs Council in September 2015, a group of four countries – Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary itself – said that they would not adhere to the agreement, and other countries such as Finland abstained from voting. Without a homogeneous position from the partner countries, a situation of blockade can emerge that makes the articulation of the ENP more complicated in this field.
Addressing Long-Term Factors to Improve Migration Management
The detail of the responses related to the action that in the long term should improve migration management (see graph 2) indicates the priorities that the experts have highlighted and that are in tune, as also reflected in the ENP consultation, with the need to use “the ENP Framework for addressing more effectively the root causes of migration in partner countries.” In this respect, it must be kept in mind that action is needed in 16 countries with their respective specificities and, given that today the Mediterranean is the point of articulation of migration movements that share areas of origin, reception and transit of human movements, it is obvious that without taking into account the neighbouring countries or regions of these partner countries, the ENP action is unlikely to be effective. Consequently, it is essential to act in the direction indicated in the revision of the ENP, and that indicates that the current challenges in terms of migrations (also in security and energy) must be tackled in a broader format and in collaboration with the ENP countries and their neighbours.
“It is essential to act in the direction indicated in the revision of the ENP: challenges in terms of migrations (also in security and energy) must be tackled in a broader format and in collaboration with the ENP countries and their neighbours.”
Graph 2: To what extent should ENP actions/policies to enhance orderly migration and promote mobility focus on?
The results concerning the sustainable livelihoods in the country of origin as well as for the fragility of the state and the conflicts in the region, indicate that migrations should be placed at the core of the ENP, especially if we bear in mind the importance given by its current revision to stability, which is directly related to the main objectives of this regional policy: “the promotion of democracy, human rights and socioeconomic development.”
“Results concerning the “sustainable livelihoods of the country of origin” linked to state fragility state and the conflicts in the region, indicate that migrations should be placed at the core of the ENP.”
Also notable is the result concerning environmental degradation and its effect on migrations. This aspect should warn us mainly at a forward-looking level, because environmental degradation is closely linked to the effect of climate change. Here we must carefully follow the results of the Valletta Summit on Migration held in November 2015, which put on the table the Emergency Trust Fund for stability of €1.8 billion and addressing root causes of irregular migration in Africa. Specifically, it would be urgent for the objective of improving development cooperation and the action on the root causes of migration in the African continent. Today, the migration movements caused by environmental factors have begun to have a specific weight, and the debate around their categorisation as forced migration or as voluntary migration must not be ignored over the next few years.
Measures to Promote Mobility
At the level of the most immediate management, the measures linked to improving and promoting mobility (see graph 3) also have an important impact in the Survey, although their priority is not as high as the previously analysed measures. These results must be interpreted based on the current framework in which the refugee crisis conditions the debate on the dialogue on mobility and migrations. In fact, it can be argued that the low development of options of regular migrations at EU and consequently ENP level come from far away and is due to its security approach and that it has been based more on internal fears than on economic factors of a more global dimension. In this line, it is increasingly necessary for the internal dynamics of the Member States and their positioning faced with the reception of new migrants to not condition regional dialogue on human movements and migrations. Here, the ENP can support and promote the potential of the existing regional initiatives, specifically the regional consultation processes such as the Rabat Process and the Khartoum Process, which are examples of cooperation between governments, dialogue and exchange of information and establishment of an agreed agenda to address the issue of human movements in the Mediterranean. In this respect, the promotion of a transregional approach would be strengthened, as previously noted.
“Results on measures linked to improve and promote mobility, are affected by the refugee crisis, which conditions the debate on the dialogue on mobility and migrations.”
Graph 3: To what extent should ENP actions/policies to enhance orderly migration and promote mobility focus on? (the graph below displays the % answers considering very high extent)
Finally, it is worth emphasising the favourable result obtained by the Mobility Package agreements by respondents from Maghreb countries, given the EU concluded Mobility Partnerships with Morocco in 2013 and with Tunisia in 2014. It is an instrument promoted since the revision of the ENP in 2011 and that should enable an all-encompassing and orderly management of migrations based on the introduction of programmes to allow the mobility of migrant workers through stable and regular channels. The socioeconomic reality of each country and its capacity for negotiation (for instance, by strengthening or not the control on irregular flows) suggests the need to apply the principles of differentiation and flexibility when putting forward these Mobility Package agreements.
“The low development of options of regular migrations at EU and consequently ENP level come from far away and is due to its security approach.”
The revision of the ENP in terms of migration has identified those fields on which to act and also elements of design and implementation to ensure that the actions have an efficient outcome. Specifically, the need for the agenda on migration for the neighbourhood to be clearly and effectively integrated in the EU policies and with a notable presence on the foreign affairs agenda, which takes into account the regions adjacent to the southern neighbourhood and finally an effective action on the primary causes of migrations and on how to have an effect on them.
“It is worth emphasising the favourable result obtained by the Mobility Package agreements by respondents from Maghreb countries, given that the EU concluded Mobility Partnerships with Morocco in 2013 and with Tunisia in 2014.”
However, the different policy approaches of the Member States that have prevented the establishment of a common migration policy can also explain why the ENP is inoperative in migration terms despite having identified the what and how on the regulation of human movements in the Mediterranean.
“The agenda on migration for the neighbourhood needs to be clearly and effectively integrated in the EU policies, with a notable presence on the foreign affairs agenda, which takes into account the regions adjacent to the southern neighbourhood.”
Finally, it is worth repeating the importance attached to the causes of migrations and, given their current complexity, in which flows of war refugees, forced migrations and voluntary migrations overlap, it is complex to address this action and it requires a long-term strategy. Without economic and political stability in the mid-term, it is not possible to envisage an optimistic horizon for the human movements in the Mediterranean and therefore migrations should have a central position in the design of the revised ENP.