12 July 2013
Category : Opinion
For many, Cotonou is and will continue to be known as the city where the latest trade agreements were made between the EU and the group of ACP countries in 2000. Nevertheless, for the FIIAPP, and particularly the MME Project (Migration, Mobility and Employment), it is another brick in the construction of the Africa-EU Dialogue.
On July 4-5, the meeting “Promotion of cross-border mobility of people and goods” took place in the economic capital of Benin. What better city than Cotonou to discuss the free circulation of people and goods – a clear nod to Euro-African relations – which also emphasizes the role of the baseline trade port in West Africa, particularly in the area of the Gulf of Guinea.
Over the course of these two days, with the help of the Ministry of the Interior of Benin and particularly its Permanent Secretary Marcel Baglo, the Head of the EU Delegation, the FIIAPP and its ICMPD and UN-IDEP partners, we had the opportunity to bring together new civil servants, representatives of African and European countries, and representatives of regional African international organizations, in a forum for dialogue. Among the experts invited by the EU, we would like to mention the experts sent by the French andSpanish Ministries of the Interior, as well as the representative of the European Agency FRONTEX. Among the participants from Africa, we would like to mention the experts from ECOWAS, TradeMark Southern Africa and Kenya, among others.
Throughout this meeting, the various parties shared their experiences and their opinions regarding specific problems inherent in facilitating the movement of people and goods and what this implies for effective, controlled management of these flows. True freedom can only be achieved if it is supported by a system that can ensures freedom for all, both people and governments. There cannot be a paradigm of freedom without legal and physical security. Therefore, the integrated management of borders, i.e. which facilitates and accelerates procedures for greater mobility of people and goods, must be one of the main elements that the administrations involved must consider when developing border policies, as concluded in the recommendations from the meeting debates.
Regarding a topic as sensitive and relevant as border management to promote greater mobility, the MME Project once again maintained a spirit of open collaboration and cooperation arising from the creation of the Africa-EU Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment (MME). This meeting in Cotonou marked the renewal of the mutual legitimate interests of the EU and the AU, as well as the various member states and regional organisations, regarding the need to base border policies on concepts that are shared by everyone involved. These concepts must enable the strengthening of government operations while favouring greater degrees of freedom for the activities of citizens.
Javier Vega Barral
Project Technician. Migration and Development Program
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