European Development Aid – How to Resolve the Challenges of Migration?

Policy proposal by IREX Europe 26/05/2016

Development aid should not be used as a bargaining chip to obtain agreements or concessions on areas of strategic interest to the EU.

Development aid must not be linked to or conditioned by agreements on readmission, stronger border control or stifling of mobility within African countries and other countries of origin of migrants. In addition Official Development Aid (ODA) should not be diverted to cover the cost of migrants in donor countries. Such instrumentalisation of aid goes against key commitments signed under the Paris, Accra and Busan development effectiveness Agreements and simply distorts the original aim of development assistance. Analysis In an environment of decreasing ODA budgets, increasing migration flows towards Europe, using ODA for migration management in countries of origin will only further exacerbate the global migration crisis and ultimately distort the concept of development assistance. Using ODA to cover the costs of migrants within donor countries will only further reduce ODA budgets available to tackle the root causes of migration, further fueling a cycle of suffering and resulting migration. The number of migrants and refugees coming to the European Union is unprecedented, and despite the dangers they face and the barriers EU governments are putting in place, the numbers continue to increase. In 2014, the EU border agency Frontex recorded 278,000 illegal border crossings, two and a half times more than in 2013. The vast majority of these crossings were made via the Mediterranean, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). January and February 2015 saw a further 42% increase in illegal arrivals from the Mediterranean, mainly by migrants crossing from Libya1 . This escalation is largely due to the collapse of the Libyan state,  further exacerbated by the influx of displaced people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia, as well as chronic under-development and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. In recent months, several EU member states have reduced their development aid budgets, falling short of the shared objective of dedicating 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to international solidarity efforts. An example is Finland’s decision to reduce its contributions by 43%2 , or French ODA which this year decreased by 6.1% compared to 2015. The OECD has allowed donor countries to include the costs of supporting refugees in their countries as part of their foreign aid budgets3 since 1993. Sweden is a major donor country but the percentage of its aid budget that is being used to support refugees in its own country has increased from 4.2% in 2006 to 8.7% in 20104 . The EU is the world’s biggest donor in terms of development assistance, spending €58 billion on development aid in 20145 . The ultimate stated purpose of this development aid is to reduce and eradicate poverty in developing countries. But development is not a “solution” to the “problem” of migration and migration as a whole is not necessarily a problem in itself. Nearly 60 million people worldwide are now displaced from their homes6 . There are many different causes, which can range from conflict in Syria and repression in Eritrea to climate change-related drying in the Sahel. But migration is also a long-standing human tradition and much migration is opportunistic, and even where it is forced at least in part by the search for better opportunity it is welcomed by the receiving countries as pointed out during a debate on this issue held in Lyon, France on March 12, 2016 under the U-Impact programme7 . During one of the working groups at the U-Impact debate on the “Responsibility of the EU towards its development aid commitments”, a representative of the Maison de l’Europe et des Européens (House of Europe and of Europeans) highlighted the fact that “these aid mechanisms [development aid, humanitarian aid …] are important and essential. But are they sufficient? Are they always appropriately used? Why is it that with over 2,000 billion dollars spent between 2002 and 2012 has poverty not decreased faster? Why are there so many economic migrants knocking on our doors? In the migration crisis we are witnessing since last year, a crisis which is not new although the number of displaced people is higher, the European Union is simply unable to face what is at stake. Most of these migrants are refugees fleeing countries at war; this dimension is often forgotten. If EU institutions have their share of responsibilities in this crisis because of their lack of initiative in the run up to the crisis, the biggest fault rests with the member states. They refused to see anything, know anything and are now obliged to manage a humanitarian crisis that surpasses them completely. They are more concerned with countering the rise of extremism in their respective countries than with having to explain why it is important to provide refuge to more displaced people. The selfishness of member states is scandalous. […] It is important to ask ourselves: why is it that 500 million inhabitants who hold ¼ of the world’s wealth is not capable of welcoming 1 or 2 million refugees, when more than 4 million of them are settled in neighboring countries: more than 2 million in Turkey (population of 75 million); over 1 million in Lebanon (population of under 5 million)!?” The EU must avoid taking a Eurocentric view of these “root causes” which are many and diverse, and which principally affect the countries of origin of migrants and their neighbours. The panellists and audience in our debate were largely unanimous in urging the EU to treat the current crisis not just as a unique crisis, and only negatively. They felt it was important to remember that much migration is natural, ongoing, needed and healthy for Europe. Development aid is a strategic tool available to European States to assist their developing neighbours in achieving peace and stability which can prevent peaks in migration and refugee crises, but it is not in itself a means to stop migration and nor should it be looked upon in that way. EU leaders however now want to use development assistance to motivate African governments (major sources of illegal immigrants towards Europe) to stop “illegal migration and to combat the smuggling networks” . The plan is part of a broader proposal on migration agreed by EU leaders on June 26th 2015 at a summit in Brussels. Conclusions from this summit note that “development policy tools should reinforce local capacity-building, including for border control, asylum, countersmuggling and reintegration”. This proposal was further approved during an EU Africa Summit in Malta in November 20159 . We are already witnessing the first plans being implemented in this regard by the EU with the EU’s decision to commit almost 300 million euros to combatting the root causes of illegal migration10 . As non-state actors of the development sphere, we at IREX Europe today are concerned that this practice of using ODA budgets to better ‘manage’ migration will have significant and unforeseen consequences for the developing world. If the decreasing funds available for ODA are diverted to covering the costs of hosting refugees in donor countries, we are concerned that developing countries will suffer from this decrease in support and that in consequence the migration crisis will only worsen, with more and more citizens from developing countries fleeing poverty and conflict and coming to Europe. This will only be exacerbated by having the ODA that does go to developing countries then used increasingly to “manage” migration rather than tackle its causes. During the Lyon debate those present agreed that as EU citizens, we are concerned that our taxpayer’s money dedicated to EU ODA is not serving its primary purpose of eradicating poverty and fostering stability in the developing world – both of which was viewed as the only sure way to reduce migration to Europe. As part of the EU’s migration management policy, the EU has relied heavily on readmission agreements with countries of origin. It negotiates and concludes readmission agreements with these countries, setting out the rules for returning persons who are found in an irregular situation. So far, the EU has concluded 17 readmission agreements, and several others are under negotiation. Since 2002, clauses on readmission are systematically included in all development cooperation treaties concluded by the EU with third countries. For example, the Cotonou agreement, between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, includes a clause on readmission. EU leaders now want to use development assistance to motivate African governments to stop “illegal migration and to combat the smuggling networks”12. They are also pushing for development aid to be used to reinforce local capacity building in border control, asylum, counter-smuggling and reintegration of illegal immigrants. The ultimate purpose of development aid is to reduce and eradicate poverty. For the EU, this purpose is enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Article 208. EU Member States have a strong say in determining how EU aid is spent. The main EU aid programme for Africa is the European Development Fund (EDF) and it works like this:  All EU Member States participate in the EDF committee and each project is approved by a vote.  The weight of each vote is partly determined by how much money the member state contributes to the EDF.  Before starting a new project, the European Commission’s on-the-ground delegations consult Member States. Since 2005, the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) provides the framework for the EU’s relations with third countries in the areas of migration and asylum. Updated in May 2012, it serves as a complement to the EU’s foreign and development cooperation policies, notably the EU’s Agenda for Change. It proposes a broadened approach, which gives greater attention to South-South flows, effective integration of migration into national development and poverty reduction plans as well as the inclusion of refugees and other displaced persons in long-term development planning .

Conclusion:

In a context of budgetary cuts, European Union and member states development budgets should not suffer from the migration crisis – they should neither be used to cover costs of hosting refugees in donor countries, nor should they be used as incentives for better ‘migration management’ by countries of origin and transit or to build these countries’ capacities in better managing migration fluxes. If we do nothing then development assistance will be diverted from its primary purpose of eradicating poverty in the world; The migration crisis will only worsen if ODA is diverted to migration management in countries of origin and covering costs of hosting refugees in donor countries; A worsened migration crisis worldwide will only further exacerbate the climate of intolerance within the European Union towards foreigners.  5 The main arguments against maintaining a strong level of development aid are economic and isolationist. The economic argument contends that the European economy is not sufficiently strong to allow the luxury of investing beyond its borders in support for others when that support is needed at home, in “our own schools and hospitals”. This ignores however the massive wealth of the European Union and the reality that the ODA is actually a fraction of the EU and member states’ budgets. Isolationists fear the impact of massive numbers of immigrants changing the structure of the societies in which we live in Europe. Again this ignores the rich tradition of migration in Europe and globally, and it ignores the evidence of successful waves of migration in the past and the social, cultural and economic benefits to the host countries that migration has brought. These points were highlighted during the U-Impact Lyon debate on numerous occasions. Notably during one of the working groups on the “Responsibility of the EU towards its development aid commitments”, a representative of the Maison de l’Europe et des Européens (House of Europe and of Europeans) highlighted the fact that “these aid mechanisms [development aid, humanitarian aid …] are important and essential. But are they sufficient? Are they always appropriately used? Why is it that with over 2,000 billion dollars spent between 2002 and 2012 has poverty not decreased faster? Why are there so many economic migrants knocking on our doors? This list of questions is non-exhaustive, I could go on. In the migration crisis we are witnessing since last year, a crisis which is not new although the number of displaced people is higher, the European Union is simply unable to face what is at stake. Most of these migrants are refugees fleeing countries at war; this dimension is often forgotten. If EU institutions have their share of responsibilities in this crisis because of their lack of initiative in the run up to the crisis, the biggest fault rests on the member states. They refused to see anything, know anything and are now obliged to manage a humanitarian crisis that surpasses them completely. They are more concerned by countering the rise of extremism in their respective countries than by having to explain why it is important to provide refuge to more displaced people. The selfishness of member states is scandalous. […] It is important to ask ourselves: why is it that 500 million inhabitants who hold ¼ of the world’s wealth is not capable of welcoming 1 or 2 million refugees, when more than 4 million of them are settled in neighboring countries: more than 2 million in Turkey (population of 75 million); over 1 million in Lebanon (population of under 5 million)!”

U-Impact follow up activities

The key stakeholders relevant to this policy statement are the member state governments, the European Commission and the European Parliament, and of course European Citizens. In order to lobby for support of the views expressed in this paper it is essential that the leaders of the EU and the member states know that their citizens understand this issue and want to see ODA supported and maintained to build a more stable and secure European neighborhood and a better world. Key follow-up activities are continued and increased citizen outreach activities such as the debates held by IREX Europe and U-Impact members, as well as outreach within schools and colleges and community centers to create an increased awareness and understanding with the EU population of the issues at hand. There is then a need for coordinated lobbying and communication within each member state and at the EU level to inform those in power of the importance of maintaining ODA.

References:

http://www.euractiv.com/sections/development-policy/commission-laments-eu-development-aid-cuts- 316258 3 DCD/DAC/STAT(2005)13 4 http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/RefugeeCostsMethodologicalNote.pdf 5 http://www.euractiv.com/sections/development-policy/commission-laments-eu-development-aid-cuts-316258 6 https://www.oxfam.de/system/files/oxfam_position_paper_for_eu-africa_migration_summit.pdf 7 IREX Europe U-impact debate, Lyon March 12, 2016 http://irex-europe.fr/IREX-Europe-Debate-on-Migration.html

http://www.euractiv.com/sections/development-policy/development-aid-failures-exacerbate-migrant-crisis- 314162

https://euobserver.com/justice/129331 9 http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/international-summit/2015/11/11-12/ 10 https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/news-and-events/new-decisions-better-manage-migration-and-address-root-causes-irregularmigration_en

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/fr/ec/72640.pdf 12 https://euobserver.com/justice/129331 13 http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/international-affairs/global-approach-tomigration/index_en.htm

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