Policy Brief


EU narratives around externalisation are centred on the large and ‘dangerous’ flows of African migrants arriving by sea, and ignore the stories of the thousands of asylum seekers stuck in border countries in inhumane conditions or of the millions of Africans who prefer to migrate within their continent for trade and work purposes.

This policy brief highlights the political, economic and social transformations caused by European externalisation policies within African states. The EU and its member states – using their political and economic leverage – are making deals with African states, urging them to replace their existing free movement protocols with the EU’s requirement to stop migration flows. The emphasis on restricting migration to Europe combined with the shortage of legal migratory pathways is contributing to prolonged displacement in border towns and camps where asylum seekers and refugees suffer deprivation and fall prey to smugglers and traffickers. The funds from externalisation deals are being channeled towards the militarisation of borders and are bolstering the capacity of both state and non-state actors – especially in Libya and Tunisia – to perpetrate human rights abuses against African migrants.

This policy brief surmises that externalisation perpetuates immobility amongst historically mobile African groups, results in the loss of livelihoods, introduces new forms of displacement, creates a surge in human smuggling and trafficking, and leads to unprecedented human rights abuses.

Progressive Migration Group

FEPS, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung EU Office and Fondation Jean-Jaurès came together to establish the Progressive Migration Group (PMG). The group, chaired by Anna Terron Cusi and composed of African and European migration experts, explores the relations and cooperation between the European Union and the countries of origin and transit, with the aspiration of abandoning the prevailing stagnant narratives surrounding migration, and, above all, with the ambition of formulating innovative recommendations and policy proposals for progressive forces at the EU and national levels in the field of migration management as well as in other policy areas that have an impact on migration causes and flows.

In particular, the project focuses on how these complex relations have been interpreted and translated into policies by the EU institutions, mostly aimed at curbing (irregular) migration by externalising migration control and management. This is a component of EU policy still prevailing in the (New) Pact for Asylum and Migration.

The PMG formulates alternative migration schemes between Africa and Europe that take on board this more profound understanding of this nexus.

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