During our study visit to Greece we came to appreciate the efforts of the Greek authorities and civil society in their response to the challenge of migration flows in a country that has to cope with traditional borders in the north and open borders, due to its many islands, in the south. The EU-Turkey deal, strongly and rightly contested, has nevertheless provided breathing space, offered a stand-by, although the root causes of migration continue to exist: wars, terrorism, poverty and multiple forms of persecution.
The European Commission is thinking of a larger investment plan for Africa, which is urgently needed to assure pacification and to increase the continent’s attractiveness to return or to remain. Trade, if fair, and not aimed only at being advantageous for Europe, in combination with well thought through development cooperation, should be the main ingredient of Europe’s contribution to solving the multiple crises. Progressives in politics, unions and civil society will support this.
The cornerstone of any successful implementation of an African investment programme will be good governance. In this sense, a well understood ‘more for more’ approach will make the difference, not the equation of more money for more return or fewer migrants. Civil society could fulfil the role of monitoring the implementation, under one condition: in a respected and not reduced civic space.
For many migrants and refugees Europe represents hopes and dreams. A decisive European contribution to real sustainable development along the lines of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals should be the aim. An investment plan built around the neoliberal mantras of growth and competitiveness at any price would be detrimental and only drive people to extremism. Africa as a continent of hope would make all the difference to globalisation and Europe has to shoulder its share of the responsibility, not only because of its colonial past.
This editorial appeared in the SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up of 12 May 2017.