Presently, migration is a leading issue in bilateral and multilateral discussions between the European Union (EU) and its member states on the one hand, and the African Union (AU) and its member states on the other.
According to a recent Financial Times report, about 6000 migrants, with 25 percent of them children, “entered Spain after Morocco scaled back the policing of its border following a diplomatic rift between the two countries.” Morocco is “deeply unhappy with Spain’s decision to provide medical treatment to Brahim Ghali, head of the Polisario Front, which has long fought for the independence of the Western Sahara region.” Such a sudden increase in the flow of migrants may be caused by many factors that are not necessarily attributable to migrants only. When a tiff arises between countries, mainly due to disagreements on the political front, it is not surprising to see countries weaponising migration and migrants as an additional tool of diplomacy.
Since the 2015 Valletta Summit, new and aggressive migration diplomacy emerged as the EU began to employ a mix of persuasive and coercive measures to compel African countries to contain or stop migration to Europe. Financial incentives; partnership on aid, development, peace and security; governance and international diplomacy were repurposed as subservient to the migration agenda. Presently, migration is a leading issue in bilateral and multilateral discussions between the European Union (EU) and its member states on the one hand, and the African Union (AU) and its member states on the other.
The power asymmetry (financial and diplomatic) between Europe and Africa has distorted the priorities of Africa and created pressure to implement policies that give precedence to Europe’s interests over those of African countries and migrants. This power asymmetry creates dynamics in the Africa-Europe migration partnership that forces countries to resort to the use of migration and migrants as an added lever to counterbalance the asymmetry.