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European Union/migration issues

Published on August 19, 2015
Article by Mme Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophony, published in the newspaper Le Monde
Paris, August 7, 2015

Current developments linked to the tragedies involving migrants in the area around the Channel Tunnel require emergency measures, and the government, with the other states concerned, is addressing them responsibly, with solidarity, and effectively. The tragedies unfolding before our eyes conceal many others in Africa, particularly in the Nigerien desert, where numerous migrants have died. This must not make us forget the reasons which drive so many men and women to risk their lives in the hope of a better future.

Our responsibility is to remain on guard, act with our European partners to make our borders more secure and fight trafficking in human beings. But on its own, this response will be neither in keeping with our values nor effective. My firm belief as Minister of State for Development is that responsible solidarity lies at the heart of the response.

Migration must be a choice.

It is with this in mind that I am promoting, with Germany and the Netherlands, a draft European initiative for concrete action aimed at young Africans: education, training and jobs, quality of life and access to care, citizenship, and the development of rural areas. The challenges linked to population growth are huge: over the next 15 years, 400 million young people will enter the job market in sub-Saharan Africa. Europe must view this not as a risk, but an opportunity. By giving millions of people rights and prospects of a decent life, development assistance helps everyone to choose how to live their own lives and to give people tempted by migration reasons to stay. In this respect, it emancipates. Migration must be a choice.

In the North and the South, we must face up to what is happening together and provide lasting solutions, planned over the long term. Firstly, in the migrants’ countries of departure, because they hold certain keys to the problem through their way of governing, through their ability to create a business environment conducive to job creation and through access to basic services which are essential to development. Secondly, in the countries receiving the migrants. Focused on our own economic problems, we too often forget the yawning gap which still separates us from our neighbours in the South. We even forget that migration also makes an economic contribution, is a source of diversity and that migrants often support loved ones far away.

This year is offering us the means to establish the outlines of tomorrow’s world, a zero-carbon, zero-poverty world, with the New York summit on Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Conference. It is together – as emigration and immigration countries – that we shall be able to respond to the challenges of migration, without naive optimism or populism./.

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