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We want to be a player, not just a payer

Mariya Gabriel

When we think of migration, we think of Africa. When we think of Africa, we think of development. We think that the European Union is the biggest donor. But is our Union the biggest player?

Following the migration crisis, Europeans now know that peace in Africa also means peace for Europe. Development and security issues are interdependent. Investing in development aid means investing in the stabilisation of countries which also means investing in our own security. The more we are involved, the better we can prevent and normalise migration flows. We have to tackle problems at their roots, in Africa, before they become real European problems.

The European Union has played its hand. The EPP Group called for strengthened cooperation with Africa and last July, the Group’s Presidency went on a fact-finding mission to Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union headquarters. This mission was a positive signal. At the Valetta Summit where EU and African leaders met, an important step forward was made in acknowledging that migration is a global issue. We must work together to tackle it. The EPP Group welcomed the Action Plan agreed in Valetta but stressed that without proper political will, there will be no concrete results. More money does not automatically mean more results, and that is where the EPP Group will be very cautious. Our aid can only be effective if there are real commitments on behalf of the receiving countries to reform for their own benefit and in the interest of their people.

The biggest challenge is to transform the donor-beneficiary relationship into a win-win relationship. We cannot tell them that we will mobilise our resources without being firm about what is expected. And in this sense, we must do more to support those who actually make these efforts to work towards the development of their own country. In this way, we will create favourable conditions for people to remain in their countries.

On our side, the EU must speak with one voice and insist on conflict prevention. We are now conscious of the fact that it costs less, both in terms of human lives and financially, to have impact before conflicts arise. Prevention of radicalisationanti-terrorism, the fight against irregular migration and peace-keeping/building are areas where we absolutely need to cooperate with Africa. The EPP Group has always supported a genuine European Foreign Affairs and Defence Policy, including through CSDP missions where needed, and when there is will on the part of the EU and its Member States to speak with one voice on the international scene.

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