Immigration : Mali, Eu, France and Spain Launch Migration Centre

Article excerpt

A new initiative, a centre for migration,' will be operational in Mali by the end of 2007. The aim is to facilitate legal immigration to Europe, while reducing illegal immigration. Is this an impossible challenge? Not according to the European Union, France, Spain and Mali, who on 8 February concluded a political agreement setting the initial foundations for this pilot project.

From conception to agreement, the path was quickly covered. Louis Michel (Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid) launched the idea during the EU-Africa Summit on 22 and 23 November 2006 in Tripoli. Won over by this initiative, France and Spain followed closely behind the commissioner. On 8 February, Brigitte Girardin, French Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophony and Bernardine Leon, Spain's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, initialled the agreement beside Louis Michel.

The centre will propose to Malians job offers in Europe, together with a visa corresponding to the duration of the work contract. Above all, it will forward proposals for recruitment from bordering countries. In fact, 80% of Malian candidates at first head towards the prosperous bordering countries (Nigeria, Ghana), rather than to Europe - the cost and length of the trip are off-putting. The agency will also offer language courses, technical training and micro-credit loans.

ROLES

The roles are clearly distributed. Placed under the double supervision of the employment agency and the Malian Ministry of Employment, the migration centre will depend entirely upon the Malian government. Consequently, Mali will supply premises and human resources - although European civil servants or experts will be involved in the project launch.

FINANCING

For their part, the European Union, France and Spain are dipping their hands in the pot. The exact sum attributed to Mali remains to be determined, but for 2007, 37 million of the EDF (European Development Fund) is already planned to finance the creation of similar agencies in West Africa. …