Proper management of migration across the Mediterranean Sea requires close cooperation between the EU and African countries. Cooperation is difficult because core interests diverge. EU countries are focused on curbing irregular migration; African countries are primarily interested in economic development, with migration as one of the opportunities. At the moment, the EU lacks a credible long-term programme to engage African countries on migration issues.
We propose an ambitious EU-Africa partnership scheme for human capital formation and skill mobility that can be embedded into the current framework for EU-Africa dialogue. The scheme comprises three elements: First, extensive vocational training programmes would be set up in African countries, funded by the EU or individual member states, to train participants according to labour market needs in both the EU and African countries. Second, EU member states would issue a substantial number of work permits, offering programme graduates a good chance of employment in the EU while allowing member states to manage the inflow of workers according to their needs. Third, the private sector would be actively involved in planning and implementing vocational training programmes to ensure that graduates are employable in the EU and to facilitate job search and hiring across the Mediterranean.
The scheme fits in the current legal framework for labour migration into the EU, and should be seen as one element in building a comprehensive forward-looking partnership with Africa for the benefit of all stakeholders involved in both origin and destination countries.