Researcher Lisa Åkesson.

Under the cover of partnership

Newsletter Editorial, February 2012 by Lisa Åkesson

This is a short version of an editorial by NAI researcher Lisa Åkesson featured in the upcoming NAI Annual Report 2011 (out in March 2012). The award-winning NAI Annual Report is filled with engaging articles, analyses and interviews about research on Africa.

The EU-Cape Verde Mobility Partnership makes Cape Verde responsible for supporting the EU agenda on migration control. However, it gives the West African island state very little in return.   

The EU commissioner responsible for migration, Cecilia Malmström, has recently launched a renewed EU migration strategy. According to Malmström, the aim is to boost EU relationships with non-EU states to better reap the mutual benefits migration can bring. The new strategy will give priority to so-called Mobility Partnerships, and offers them to T unisia, Morocco and Egypt, among other countries.

The state of Cape Verde entered into a Mobility Partnership with the EU already in 2008. The Cape Verdean government signed on because it hoped the Partnership would provide new openings for legal migration to Europe. Another reason was the country’s dependence on development support and loans from both the EU and member countries, the implication being that Cape Verde could not object to EU’s Partnership proposal.

Migration and development is one of three core elements in the main Partnership declaration, but this is not reflected in the annex setting out the activities that will bring the agreement into effect. Of the 29 proposed activities, only three relate to migration and development. Rather, the activities reflect the dominance of EU’s migration-control agenda. Cooperation between Cape Verde and Frontex, the specialised EU agency on border control, plays a prominent role, as does support from Europol. Strengthening border controls, introducing biometric passports and Spanish naval patrols of Cape Verdean waters are also part of the programme. What then does Cape Verde get in exchange for its compliance with the EU’s securitisation of migration?

The compensation offered by the EU in respect of the readmission agreement is facilitation of visa requirements for certain groups, such as government officials. This means that the Cape Verdean officials who participate in the negotiations have a personal interest in reaching an agreement that would make it easier for them to go on much-coveted trips to Europe. One EU representatives in Cape Verde confirmed this by telling me with a little smile, “ Those who negotiate on the Cape Verdean side have a special interest. ” When I confronted one of the Cape Verdean negotiators with this comment, he readily admitted that the new visas would be beneficial for himself and for his children.

The implementation of the migration and development element in the Partnership has been delegated to CAMPO, a €1 million project managed by Portugal. CAMPO’s first aim is to “facilitate [the] matching between skills and available jobs/vacancies and provide relevant information on migration channels ...” Between 2009 and 2011, this has resulted in assisting a mere three (3!) persons to secure labour contracts in Europe.

In sum, the EU has compelled Cape Verde to enter into a “partnership” that makes the country responsible for guarding a section of the fosse around Fortress Europe, in return for empty promises and a failed development project.

Lisa Åkesson is an anthropologist and migration researcher. She is engaged on a research project on policy and practice as regards Cape Verdean circular migration. Her other research interests are remittances, transnational families, return and development and migration policy.

Cape Verde
European Union
International migration
Lisa Åkesson
West Africa
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