Launched in November 2015, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) was intended to promote stability and fight against “the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons”. Five billion euros have been approved for 250 projects in 26 African countries. But what results has the fund produced?
In 2014 and 2015, as the spike in the number of asylum-seekers fleeing war in Syria and Iraq made the need for a reception system reform glaringly obvious, the members of the EU decided to act. Not by activating the Temporary Protection Directive (approved in 2001, it was activated for the first time in March 2022 in reaction to the invasion of Ukraine ), but instead by deflecting attention to a continent that was at the centre of their preoccupations: Africa. At odds on many other issues, European governments agree on the need to reduce “irregular” immigration, in particular that originating from Africa, and increase the repatriation of people staying illegally in EU territory.
The shipwrecks of 12 and 19 April 2015 off the coast of Libya, in which more than 1,200 people lost their lives, provided a pretext for the acceleration of these policies. According to the European Council declaration , in order to “save lives at sea”, it is necessary to externalise border control, fight against people-smuggling and encourage cooperation on repatriations by mobilising “all tools, including through development cooperation”.
Repeatedly articulated by the Commission and the Council over the course of spring and summer 2015, these priorities form the backdrop to the Valletta Summit on migration on 11 and 12 November 2015, which brought together European and African leaders on the question of “migration management”. A new financial instrument was launched, the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF for Africa ), with the aim of fighting “the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa”.
The fund was criticised from its launch, firstly on the basis of its structure. Established in 2013, the European Union Trust Funds are multi-donor financial mechanisms that allow for flexible and fast responses to external emergency situations. Separate from the EU budget, they are not monitored by the Parliament, which does not appreciate being sidelined. “That didn’t surprise me,” says Spanish Member of EU Par