“Managing migration along the Central Mediterranean route has remained a priority area of work within the Partnership Framework. In July and August, the number of arrivals to Italy compared to the summer last year has reduced. A number of measures put in place by Italy and the EU in Libya, in close collaboration with the Libyan authorities and key international partners (the International Organisation for Migration, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), and more broadly within the Partnership Framework, are beginning to bear fruits. Some important steps forward were also made with some partner countries, like Guinea and Bangladesh.
Reduced migratory pressure along the Central Mediterranean route provides an opportunity to make further progress on a range of actions set in motion since the launch of the Partnership Framework approach.
Enhancing domestic border control as well as anti-smuggling and migration management capabilities in countries of origin and transit contributes to dismantling smugglers networks, reducing outflows and enhancing security and stability. A stronger focus should be placed on border control in Southern Libya and in its neighbouring countries. Strengthening the work of Joint Investigation Teams, such as the one operating in Niger, and of Common Security and Defence missions operating in migration-sensitive areas, can bring further results. Efforts at regionalising CSDP missions and supporting the creation of a G5 joint force should also continue with the full support of Member States.
As success in dismantling smugglers networks often deprives local communities along the routes of a source of revenue, ensuring local ownership for migration policies requires the timely implementation of projects to create jobs and alternative sources of revenues. To that effect it is key that existing projects to foster socio-economic resilience in Southern Libya and Niger, already approved under the EU Trust Fund for Africa, are swiftly implemented.
While efforts at closing existing routes are beginning to show results, the EU should continue to be vigilant on the possible creation of new alternative routes to Europe, engaging with relevant partner countries and with the most concerned Member States.
Efforts to stem irregular migration should continue to be paralleled by strong policies to protect human rights and ensure dignified living conditions for migrants in countries of transit, in particular Libya. The successful implementation of the programme between the EU and the International Organisation for Migration of Assisted Voluntary Returns in West Africa and Libya points to the significant potential of this policy tool.
Work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on resettlement of those in need of international protection can play an increasingly important role. Member States should swiftly make ambitious pledges in the context of the wider resettlement exercise launched by the Commission.
Effective return and readmission remains key to provide disincentives to irregular migration and protect the integrity of asylum systems. Recent progress in pragmatic cooperation in the field of returns with some countries in Western Africa and Asia should offer a benchmark for similar progress with other partner countries. The EU will continue to stand ready to mobilise all relevant leverages and tools, including visa policy, to build constructive cooperation in this area.
Finally, the scale of funding that can be mobilised in support of EU policy objectives remains a key factor for success. It will be essential that additional resources are made available by Member States for projects under the EU Trust Fund for Africa, and in particular its North Africa Window for 2018 and beyond.
The upcoming EU-Africa Summit will constitute an opportunity to take stock of progress made within the context of the Partnership Framework with African countries and to add new dynamics to the ongoing effort to build together a well-functioning and mutually benefiting mobility and migration partnership. ”