Understanding African and European perspectives on migration: Towards a better partnership for regional migration governance?
In September 2016, ECDPM organised a Conference in The Hague around the role and ways of partnering with the African Union and its regional bodies on peace and security and migration. What came out clearly in these conversations is a perception among some African actors that there is a lack of knowledge and appreciation of what African institutions have been doing on migration, as well as a misinterpretation of African realities and perspectives on migration. On the European side, there were questions on the capacity and effectiveness of the African Union and its regional bodies, and the added value they may or may not have on specific issues in relation to migration. The research conducted for this paper served as the background to this conference on the thematic area of migration. The aim of the paper is to contribute to a better understanding on the interests, narratives and priorities held by African and European actors in the area of migration, as well as to explore the added value of the African Union and its regional bodies to address its dimensions. Global challenges and opportunities related to migration require new or updated partnerships, based on cooperation and negotiation between equals. Understanding each other better is an essential component in trading interests and finding synergies. A deeper understanding of these interests and perspectives can help policy makers in identifying points of convergence and issues for negotiation more accurately. This, in turn, would provide them with the opportunity to identify potential areas of engagement with respective regional partners (both in terms of financial support and in terms of political dialogue and alliances) while being realistic on what to expect. In areas where convergence is more rare, a deeper insight into the perspectives of the other party can still lead to an improved – and more respectful - dialogue on these issues. This paper aims to contribute to these goals.