In collaboration with the Policy Forum on Development (PFD), the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Directorate-General for International Partnership of the European Commission (DG INTPA) hosted a virtual meeting titled CSO-LA Consultation on the EU Regional Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa on 23 March, 2021. The webinar aimed at getting input from civil society and local authority partners and stakeholders. Highlighting the partnership between Africa and Europe, this webinar was an opportunity to lay down the priorities and objectives of this programme.

The meeting started with Hans-Christian STAUSBOLL, Head of Unit for Regional and Multi-Country Programmes for Africa at the DG INTPA who outlined the priorities on the basis of the Multi-Annual Indicative Programme, shedding light on the root causes of irregular migration. After that, the moderator Marzia PIETRELLI gave the floor to participants to address their questions to the speakers on regional programming.

The meeting proceeded with five breakout sessions: Green Transition, Digital Transformation and Economic Integration, Investment And Jobs, Peace and Security, Governance and Human Development, and Migration and Mobility. Four questions were raised within each breakout session. The session on migration and mobility was moderated by Victoria Garcia Guillen, and Salim Korkmaz, General Coordinator of UCLG-MEWA, was assigned as the rapporteur. As reported by Salim Korkmaz, the participants’ comments regarding the first question on the EU Initiatives on migration and mobility included the following:

  1. More attention needs to be paid for the legal basis of migration, and migration needs to be taken as a force for development for the countries of destination.
  2. More focus should be laid on intra-regional mobility as a great deal of migration occurs within the continent.
  3. Expanding the pathways of migration.
  4. Strengthening policies related to protecting children on the move.
  5. Resource mobilization from non-EU partners and funding sources for longer term support to migration management.
  6. Improving employment opportunities for the youth to ensure that they foresee a future in their countries.
  7. Non-European migration routes need to be taken into consideration.
  8. Human rights-based approach should be followed as a way of putting people at the center.
  9. The role of Local Governments in migration management needs to be highlighted (decentralized cooperation).

As for the second question on the added value, biggest challenges, and significant gaps of the EU programming for this theme, participants answered the following:

  1. Legal pathways to Europe need to be worked on further.
  2. As for the significant gaps in EU programming, there is a lack of coherence in multi-country programs. Single country programs may be more effective, while multi-country programs may not.
  3. Supporting young entrepreneurs is a must to boost job creation in the countries of origin.

As for the third question on the contribution that CSOs/LAs could provide in the framework of these regional/continental initiatives and the advantages of the EU partnership with civil society organizations and local authorities, participants raised the following points:

  1. Migration management should be based on the principle of subsidiarity and decentralized cooperation (bilateral and trilateral decentralized cooperation initiatives).
  2. Highlighting the role of migration in cross-breeding cultures across borders.
  3. FPAs have been supportive for CSOs, and need to be continued.
  4. Refugee-led organizations can provide valuable inputs.
  5. Learning from one other and working with different stakeholders is always an added value.
  6. It helps to engage a broader range of stakeholders, including diaspora organizations in a systematic manner.
  7. Classification of CSOs is helpful as different constituencies will have different needs.
  8. Working with CSOs guarantee local ownership of initiatives, rather than dictating a certain policy.

As for the fourth question on human development approach, participants pointed out and suggested the following:

  1. The issue of inadequate funding.
  2. Assessments on the negative effects of human mobility on development should be made with a whole-of-route approach.
  3. The important role of local governments in inclusive COVID-19 response that entail migrants.
  4. Avoiding short term and short-sighted initiatives to make a real difference.
  5. Focusing on the poorest of the poor who cannot even afford to migrate.
  6. Gender dimension also needs to be included in the discussion on migration and COVID-19, as women have been much more affected.

The meeting ended with a wrap-up and closing remarks by Hans-Christian Stausboll. Lastly, Marzia thanked all participants and asked them to send their contributions in writing until 30 March, 2021. A template will be uploaded on the event page on Cap4Dev.

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