Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development, Paris 25 november 2008
Tobias Billström, Migrationsminister
Tal vid "Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development" i Paris
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking France for hosting this conference. Let me also thank the other members of the steering committee; Burkina Faso, Morocco, Italy, Senegal and Spain for their commitment to taking forward the Euro-African process on migration and development.
This process, initiated in Rabat two years ago, is one of the most important steps towards developing new and innovative ways to maximize the positive effects of migration for the benefit of both African and European states and for individual migrants and their families. It also contributes to bringing our two regions closer together politically, economically and culturally. We note with great satisfaction that Europe and Africa have jointly managed to place the impact of migration on development higher on the international agenda.
Ladies and gentlemen.
Everybody stands to gain from well managed migration; countries of origin and destination as well as the migrants themselves. The migration and development nexus is indeed one of the most fundamental issues for the Euro-African partnership in order to ripe the benefits of an increasingly globalised world.
The development potential of migration is tremendous - but the actual contribution is to a large extent depending on the existence of a supportive environment that can promote and facilitate migrants´ efforts to invest in development; for themselves, their families and communities. By considering migration as an integral part of the national agenda for development and poverty reduction of countries of origin, an important step is taken towards the ultimate goal that individuals and families should migrate out of choice rather than necessity.
Countries of destination, on their part, need to be aware of, and be realistic about the long term need for labour immigration in order to meet the current and future demands of labour markets and economies. Irregular migration reveals the existence of dual labour markets in many of our countries today; one for those with legal residence, another for those without it. Irregular migration leaves people without ability to exercise their rights and without protection, whilst allowing for existing labour shortages to be met through a vulnerable and exploitable labour force.
A key challenge for all our Governments is therefore to create expanded opportunities for legal movement by developing flexible legislation through which the needs of labour markets can be met and women and men who choose to migrate can realize their potential, while respecting national laws and regulations. Since signing the Rabat declaration in 2006, the European Union has taken important steps towards opening up our labour markets to third country nationals, as well as towards mainstreaming the status and social rights of migrants in different member states. All in the spirit of the Rabat declaration. Sweden is in the process of adopting the largest policy reform in decades in order to facilitate legal migration to our country.
In this context, we must recognize that the old paradigm of migration for permanent settlement is increasingly giving way to temporary and circular migration. The impact of circular migration on development is major. And as global mobility increases, the creation of flexible legislation for migrants resident permits is necessary, allowing migrants and members of the Diaspora to temporarily return to their countries of origin.
Portable social benefits such as pensions are key in encouraging migrants to return to their countries of origin in order to contribute to development through skills transfer, investments and international networks. Countries of origin, on the other hand, must take seriously their responsibility for the development of banking systems and financial investment possibilities for remittances as well as take on the responsibility for pro-poor economic growth and democratic governance that makes sustainable return a viable option for migrants.
Naturally, maintaining the credibility of flexible and open migration policies requires firmly tackling illegal migration. Illegal migration undermines the sovereignty of states and endangers migrants´ lives and puts them at risk of exploitation. A true Euro-African partnership on migration is only plausible if states accept the swift readmission of their own nationals, as well as third country nationals having transited through the relevant country, who do not have the right to reside in countries of destination. Readmission is fundamental for building the mutual trust and accountability that must form the core of a true Euro-African partnership on migration and development.
Our fight against illegal migration, through reinforced border controls and a well-managed system for returns needs to be robust. In the same time it needs to be sophisticated and modern enough to identify people in need of international protection, thus being in accordance with the international law and human rights instruments that we are all bound by. It is an integral part of the Rabat agenda to view asylum and migration as interlinked, and I welcome that the three-year action plan stresses the special status of refugees and asylum seekers who often travel along the same migratory routes, within and between our continents, that are used by economically motivated migrants. The fight against illegal migration undoubtedly encompass humanitarian aspects.
Ladies and gentlemen.
Greater policy coherence is key in addressing the issues at stake here today. Policy coherence involves considering the impacts of all other policy areas that have real or potential impacts on development and migratory flows, and promoting their synergies. As we all know, migration has immediate links to other global challenges of mutual concern such as climate change, democracy and the respect for human rights, conflict prevention, , employment and economic growth. These closely inter-linked challenges are, in turn, crucial in our joint efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
My government has this year signalled a new departure for its work on Policy Coherence for Development, setting out concrete ways how to strengthen Sweden´s contribution to the overarching goal: equitable and sustainable global development. The entire Government shares the ownership and responsibility for implementing this policy. The fact that Sweden is also represented at this conference by the State Secretary for International Development Cooperation, Mr Joakim Stymne from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is an expression of this commitment to enhancing synergies between our migration and development policies.
In conclusion, let me assure you all that the Swedish EU-presidency during the fall of 2009 will prioritize migration and development and ensure that the Rabat-process as well as the Migration, Mobility and Employment Partnership, agreed to at the EU-African summit last year and encompassing all African states, will remain high on the political agenda.
It is therefore with great satisfaction that we adopt the three year work program on migration and development and stress our commitment to its comprehensive implementation.