Challenge for Europe

Making Official Development Assistance Work

In Europe, public immigrations policies at both the national and community level respond to migratory flows by subscribing to a short term management logic which conflates migration, co-development, the situation of refugees, undocumented persons, and border security. It is a generalised approach… What is less known is that these public policies finance the expulsion of undocumented persons with the budget for Official Development Assistance (ODA). Worse still, they condition ODA with the creation of a control zone for immigration candidates. The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum adopted in October 2008 during the French presidency is the paragon of these policies: agreements passed with developing countries condition ODA based on drastic border control measures and the return of undocumented persons. This is the case in Morocco, Tunisia, and Lybia, who receive EU funds to play the role of customs police south of the Mediterranean.

Migrants: Actors from the South and the North

Reducing the question of migration to border control and expulsion measures devalues the important role played by these citizens here and elsewhere. The relationship between immigrants and the society in which they live, as well as the ones they have left, has evolved. The tendency for a large part of immigrants is to position themselves among citizens of the north and the south. Immigration is becoming a source of enrichment on all fronts. In the south; immigrants are harbingers of a new openness to the world as well as great sources of economic and cultural capital which encourage trade. The macro-economic impact of migrants upon financial flows cannot be understated: remittances constitute the primary source of foreign currency in many countries of the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. In the North, the amount of capital put up by migrants for local development through hundreds of micro-projects is less known but growing in importance. International solidarity organisations are the kingpin in this process. Immigrants are acting more and more as a force for development in their regions, districts and villages, in both the countries where they are living and in that of their origin – not that this means they are necessarily signing up for a project to return. There is a real awakening among migrants who are transforming themselves into active civic and economic actors, in line with the challenges of the world today, especially those challenges that are crossing borders.

The failure to recognize the development role played by migrants and their organisations allows negative images of migrants to float about, especially in times of crisis, breeding racist and xenophobic reactions. In the face of this evolution in the depth of political, social, and cultural activity of migrants, their contributions as citizens both here and abroad needs to be re-evaluated.

In view of this situation, we call for:

Greater recognition of the role of migrants as forces for development by running information campaigns to raise awareness in the wider public concerning the contribution of migrants to the effectiveness of ODA.

Promotion of the experiences led by international solidarity organisations and their recognition as indispensable partners to public authorities at both the level of member states and European bodies.

Change in the established migration policies allowing for co-development under the framework of migration policy and border protection.

Greater engagement with member states at the EU to quickly raise ODA to 0.7% of GDP, in accordance with UN resolutions under the framework of the Millennium Development Goals.

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