The Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development (Rabat Process) is a regional migration dialogue. Since 2006, the dialogue has offered a framework for consultation, bringing together countries of origin, transit and destination of the migration routes linking Central, West and Northern Africa with Europe. Over 60 stakeholders, including the European Commission (EC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), are involved. The result is an open dialogue between national administrations about technical and political questions related to migration and development.
Building on a decade of dialogue
The Rabat Process was founded in 2006 as a dialogue platform for national administrations of the countries of origin, transit and destination along the West African migration routes. The initiative was based on the acknowledgement that finding a response to unmanaged migration flows required a coordinated response from all concerned countries.
At the time, major migration routes crossed the Strait of Gibraltar or led to the Canary Islands. The conviction that it was not exclusively the responsibility of Spain and Morocco to manage these migration routes gave the impetus to France, Morocco, Senegal and Spain to create the Rabat Process. The dialogue was officially established at the first Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development organised in Rabat in 2006.
Guided by a flexible strategic framework
The dialogue benefits from a flexible and adaptive strategic framework. The Rabat Process’ Steering Committee and its rotating chairmanship are driving forces, shaping the dialogue together with all involved stakeholders. In addition, the partner countries adopt new strategies in the form of ministerial declarations and action plans every three years, designed to adapt to the evolving realities of migration and development.
The current strategic framework is the Marrakesh Political Declaration and Action Plan 2018-2020. It is aligned to the Joint Valletta Action Plan (JVAP) to foster coherence and complementarity between these frameworks. The JVAP was adopted by African and European Heads of State and Government of the Rabat Process and the Khartoum Process at the 2015 Valletta Summit on Migration. It focuses on concrete measures that address the challenges and harness the opportunities created by migration.
The Rabat Process also has an important responsibility for monitoring the implementation of the JVAP. The JVAP Monitoring & Reporting database enables structured data collection, mapping and reporting on African and European bilateral and EUTF-funded migration initiatives (programmes, policies and legislation).
Successful consultations and concrete actions
In the course of over 10 years of existence, the Rabat Process has established itself as a successful and active dialogue on migration and development. The initiative builds on the strong foundations of technical and political dialogue meetings and targeted capacity-building activities.
The Rabat Process focuses on:
DIALOGUE: Discussing common challenges and opportunities and reaching consensus.
NETWORK: Building Euro-African networks at technical and political levels.
ACTION: Formulating and implementing initiatives taking into account regional specificities.
KNOWLEDGE-SHARING: Sharing information on initiatives, policies and best practices.
MONITORING: Mapping actions and following-up on commitments made in the JVAP.
The success of the Rabat Process is also grounded in the state-driven nature of its activities and the network of Focal Points that links the dialogue to the national administrations taking part. Moreover, it is supported by a Secretariat which facilitates the dialogue and carries out support activities under the guidance of the Steering Committee and the chair of the dialogue.
The Marrakesh Action Plan introduced a unique commitment mechanism: On a voluntary basis, each partner country can pledge to make particular efforts to implement one or more of the actions defined in the plan that may be supported by the Secretariat.
Shared responsibility and a balanced dialogue
The Rabat Process aims to foster solidarity, partnership and shared responsibility in the joint management of migration issues in full respect of human rights. By sharing experiences and challenges, trust is built among the national administrations involved, leading to a common understanding of migration issues. The dialogue distinguishes itself by following a balanced approach in all its undertakings and decision-making mechanisms. Examples include the meeting agendas – prepared with close attention to reflecting the concerns of all stakeholders, both African and European – as well as the composition of the dialogue’s Steering Committee, where African and European countries are represented equally.
The 2011 Dakar Declaration put 5 principles in place that still guide the dialogue today:
- Working dialogue
- A flexible and balanced approach
- Coherent dialogue
- Committed partners
- Shared responsibility
A technical and political dialogue
The Rabat Process combines political, technical and operational dimensions. These dimensions are reflected in the three different levels of dialogue meetings:
- Euro-African Ministerial Conferences
- Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOM)
- Thematic Meetings
> Euro-African Ministerial Conferences on Migration and Development
- The Ministerial Conferences are the highest level of the dialogue within the Rabat Process and take place about every three years. The ministers in charge of migration and development of the partner countries meet to adopt a new declaration and a multi-annual cooperation programme. Currently, the Marrakesh Political Declaration and Action Plan guide the partner countries and dialogue activities.
> Senior Officials’ Meetings
- During Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOM), the partners debate strategic objectives in detail. These debates usually result in a preliminary draft of a political statement, to be adopted at the next Ministerial Conference.
- Senior Officials’ Meetings can also be organised outside the context of a Ministerial Conference, to address particularly important topics.
- Each SOM is hosted by a country taking part in the dialogue.
> Thematic Meetings
- Thematic Meetings are dedicated to a specific topic, which stems from the current multi-annual strategic framework. They provide the dialogue partners with the opportunity to share their experiences and good practices.
- After each meeting, the conclusions are presented to the participants. These conclusions propose specific recommendations for the future. Depending on the topic covered, the profile of the participants may vary from one meeting to another. Representatives from the academic world and international (or non-governmental) organisations are often invited to share their expertise.