There are some complementarities and synergies between the priorities of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) and those of the Rabat Process. An interview with the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa takes a closer look at these potential synergies.

To what extent is the EUTF guided by the key messages and recommendations coming out of the Rabat Process?

Improved migration management in countries of origin, transit and destination “in line with the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, and the Rabat and Khartoum processes” is the third of the EUTF’s four objectives. The EUTF is organised in 3 "windows", which cover different African regions: North of Africa, Sahel/Lake Chad and Horn of Africa.

Looking into the first 2 regions, we recognise that migration dialogues are essential to foster political dialogue and build mutual trust. This trust is a key element to build consensus and elaborate technical or political recommendations, which could lead to concrete initiatives and relevant policies. Migration dialogues offer a unique platform to identify and monitor initiatives in their formulation and implementation. As a result of this cross-feeding, some actions proposed under the EUTF reflect ideas and best practices exchanged within the dialogue

A concrete example of how the EUTF has been guided by the Rabat Process is the creation of the Joint Investigation Team in Niger, which aims at strengthening the cooperation between destination and transit countries in the fight against criminal networks who smuggle migrants and traffic human beings. This pilot action was discussed both at Steering Committee meetings (which provides strategic orientation to the dialogue) and at the thematic meeting on trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling co-chaired by Portugal and Niger in December 2015. This action was also identified as a key priority in the Joint Valletta Action Plan (JVAP) and the Rabat Process will follow-up on the results of this initiative.

How can coordination between the Rabat Process under the Valletta framework and the EUTF be strengthened?

The Rabat and Khartoum Processes have been officially mandated to monitor the implementation of the Joint Valetta Action Plan (JVAP) and the EUTF is one of the key implementation tools to deliver this action plan. Therefore, the two are closely linked and continue to feed into each other. It is essential that the EUTF takes into account the political decisions made within the framework of the Rabat Process, but also that the latter continues to monitor the implementation of EUTF projects and to build upon their results and the lessons learned. The new strategic framework (multi-annual cooperation programme 2018-2020) developed by the Rabat Process is aligned with the five domains of the JVAP. In addition, its action plan has been designed to ensure complementarity and to avoid duplication with EUTF actions.

Both the EUTF and the Rabat Process have their own remit, and role to play in advancing the global migration and mobility agenda. They both bring added value. The Rabat Process is a well-established migration dialogue, which has managed to build trust among its members over the past 11 years. The EUTF was set-up at the Valletta Summit on of 2015 as an implementing tool to provide a rapid, flexible and effective response to an emergency situation.

Coordination and synergies between the EUTF and the Rabat Process will help promote mutual learning. The Joint Valletta Action Plan Monitoring and Reporting Tool includes an structured data collection procedure and a database that enables mapping and reporting on African and European migration initiatives (programmes, policies and legislation). It will help provide an overview of the JVAP implementation progress.

Could you highlight some of the projects funded by the EUTF (in particular the Lake Chad/Sahel Window) that also contribute to the objectives of the Rabat Process?

EUTF operational framework for the Sahel is based on a two-fold logic. Firstly, it aims at preventing irregular migration and forced displacement and facilitating better migration management through projects that create economic and employment opportunities, or those that facilitate the voluntary return and sustainable reintegration of migrants. Secondly, the EUTF aims at building a comprehensive approach for stability, security and resilience, through border management improvement or the fight against transnational trafficking and criminal networks. All of the above contribute to the objectives of the Rabat Process.

A good example to highlight would be the project entitled “Rapid Action Groups - Surveillance and Intervention" in the Sahel, which is implemented in the G5 Sahel Member States and Senegal. This project contributes to the security of populations and stabilisation at regional and national levels, including in remote and cross-border areas.

How many projects are under way?

As of December 2017, over 90 programmes have been approved across the Sahel/Lake Chad and the North of Africa regions 

The Rabat Process covers 2 EUTF windows, what is the added value of cross-regional project? What results can be reached?

Cross-regional projects play a key role in the prevention and the fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking of human beings, which were identified as priority domains for cooperation in the 2015 Valletta Summit.

These projects, with their transnational dimension, follow the logic of migratory routes and allow for a better response to criminal networks, which are also transnational.

A cross-regional approach, building on the sharing of information and data, adds value when addressing the strategic challenges of international migration, which go beyond national borders. It allows for instance for all the relevant stakeholders to be involved, but it also allows to address more effectively key issues, such as border management.

An effective regional cooperation has resulted into concrete results for some projects, such as the provision of  protection mechanisms to those in need along the Central Mediterranean Route, the dismantling trafficking and smuggling networks from the Sahel / Lake Chad region to Libya and the offer of livelihood alternatives and the promotion of local economies development beyond smuggling-based economies.

In this respect, the "South-South cooperation" action in North of Africa represents a key initiative to help put the dialogue between Morocco, Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal on migration management into practice, and to foster cooperation on issues of common interest, such as the role of diasporas, mobility (of workers, students and volunteers) and the protection of returnees.

After two years of implementation, what lessons learnt have been taken on board? Have they resulted into major changes to the way the EUTF operates?

Already one year ago, in December 2016, major changes were made to the geographical focus of the EUTF with the extension to Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Guinea - three important countries of origin and transit of irregular migration in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the approval processes have been reduced, providing more flexibility and implementation speed.