The Togolese capital will host from 20 to 24 June 2016, a high-level meeting of Heads of Delegation of the European Union in West Africa followed by a dialogue with the commissioners of ECOWAS and UEMOA on the cooperation strategy between the European Union and western Africa. The honor conferred in Lome to host for the first time such a meeting on African soil, when she was generally held in Brussels, called the Togolese civil society to be the mouthpiece of the West African people to call to a sincere dialogue between European officials and the leaders of our subregion. Cooperation between Europe and Africa is indeed at a turning point that requires on the part of African authorities a language of truth with the European Union.
Since the Valletta summit in November 2015, Europe continues to instrumentalize development cooperation at the expense of mobility of citizens of the West African community. The trust fund of 1.8 billion euro granted to 54 African countries, while Turkey alone had received 6 billion euro, has quickly shown its limits. Barely seven months after the Valletta summit, supposed to find solutions to the « root causes of irregular migration, » we are witnessing the birth of a new plan of 8 billion euro for some well-defined countries and the ad for automn of a new investment fund as part of the Italian initiative called « Migration compact « . All these new initiatives are demonstrating the failure of the Valletta summit as indeed of all previous European projects to end the migration drama. Far to work for the African development these European successive plans, which target African countries along the route for migrants, are designed to reward African states that will implement the most restrictive security measures to prevent the arrival of migrants in Europe. These plans make feared a setback for freedom of movement on the continent, particularly in West Africa.
At the moment when ECOWAS of peoples is more than ever desired by all men and women in this region, the European Union continues to pursue policies aimed at breaking the fragile union of this part of Africa. The continued pressure on countries of West Africa around the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) is still a sad illustration. Faced with the refusal of some West Africans countries to sign EPAs and others slow to ratify, the European Union has threatened to reduce, by 1 October 2016, trade preferences in favour of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire for the entry of their products in the European zone. It is recognized that EPAs present a real danger to regional integration and industrialization of the countries of the subregion by creating unequal competition between small West African production units and large European companies.
Togolese civil society, strong by the choice of Lome to host this meeting, wants to emphasize his dismay about the life consequences of European policies in Africa. Over fifty years of development cooperation have now produced more unemployment, poverty and conflict on the continent. This situation pushes young people to go by the difficult road of deadly deserts and seas for new lands. Civil society in its social responsibility must condemn this situation. The international NGO Médecins Sans Frontières has set the example by refusing to receive any further aid from the European Union to denounce the dramatic nature of its current migration policy. It is our responsibility as African civil society to remind the authorities of our country to this meeting to hold a fair and sincere speech to the representatives of the European Union for a genuine solidarity and a respectful partnership based on human rights between our two communities.
Done in Lome June 17, 2016
Press contact: Samir ABI, Executive Director of Visions Solidaires, Permanent Secretary of the West African Observatory on Migrations, email: firstname.lastname@example.org