It is not about yes/no migration but how much
The place is not wrong: the prestigious Hotel L'Ivoire in the Ivorian city of Abidjan this week receives more than 5000 representatives from governments from Africa and Europe. Their agenda is dominated by the issue of migration, but the approach that European leaders to their African colleagues there is already in advance doomed to fail.
For decades, Europe has been applying the principle that migration must and can also be curbed by a combination of stricter border controls and economic support to countries of origin of migrants. Europe has no other approach than limiting, returning and relocating to other parts of the world, euphemistically described as "safe third country". Migrants are seen as a problem and often confused with refugees in both public opinion and policy documents. For most migrants, the only way to enter Europe is often to request asylum. The reason why economic migration now contaminates the asylum procedure, of which refugees are once again the victim.
If the policy had really worked in recent decades, the solutions now presented were obviously no longer necessary. Instead, migration is only increasing: worldwide from 200 million in 2005 to 230 million in 2017, more than 4 percent of the world's population. It is short-sighted and naive to assume that such numbers and growth can be stopped and it is also stupid because migration has benefits for all parties. However, this can only be done with well-considered migration policy and the core of it is not: whether or not migration, but how much migration, without confusion with refugee policy.
Good policy starts with correct analyzes. Politicians and public opinion explain the cause of migration in poverty: migrants migrate from poor countries to rich countries and something needs to be done about that. That is only half of the story, because the question is who will migrate from those poor countries and where those rich countries are then. It is mainly the better-mediated groups in poorer countries that migrate, because they have the opportunities that real poor people do not have. The irony therefore wants to invest more in African countries to present this week in Ivory Coast, leading to more migration.
Ivory Coast itself is a good example: it has been experiencing rapid economic growth for the last five years, but without development aid. Nevertheless, or just because of that, in 2016 alone 12,000 young Ivorians left for Europe. The growth in their own countries does not bear fruit for them, but they have the means to migrate. At the same time, Ivory Coast itself is an immigration country: over 25% of the population is non-Ivorian and from neighboring countries and it is these immigrants who reap the benefits of growth, together with the upper layer of the Ivorian society. In Nigeria there is a similar picture: it is Africa's fastest growing economy - neither with development aid - but in combination with most African migrants to Europe. But Nigeria is also an immigration country: 10 percent of the population is immigrant, almost entirely from West Africa.
On the other hand, hardly any migrants come to Europe from the poorest countries in the world: Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. They migrate or flee to neighboring countries, as many Africans do: with 29 million migrants per year, Africa is number 1 worldwide.
Who wants to stop migration with economic projects, such as the European Union proposes, is therefore counter-productive, both for the countries where the migrants come from and for the really poor countries that really need this support. Development cooperation is intended for poverty alleviation and should not be mixed with migration. What they have in common is that they both contribute to a better economic situation. The difference is that good development cooperation reduces poverty in developing countries, but the migrant invests in both the receiving country and the country of origin.
A good migration policy brings supply and demand together; the discussion then concerns the amount of necessary migration for the recipient country: Canada has been working with this model for decades. The fact that migration is necessary and useful has been scientifically proven: for example, in order to prevent an aging population in Europe and, therefore, an outflow of the labor market; and for example to do dirty, dangerous and demeaning work (the three D's, work that pays poorly, dangerously and undervalued.
That is the investment that the migrant can make and with the money he or she earns, will be reinvested in his/her own country: the so-called remittances are more than 600 billion dollars per year and three times as much as worldwide development aid. Migration policy can also record the length of stay of the migrant, which removes the argument from "suction effect". In practice, that is already self-regulating: of the current half-million foreign employees in the Netherlands, the average time is 14 months.
Finally, a demand-driven migration policy also puts an end to the pollution of the asylum procedure. War, natural disasters or persecution drives people to flee, not to work elsewhere. If they have reason for asylum - which is the case in 9 out of 10 cases worldwide - then they are entitled to protection under the Refugee Convention. The only thing that refugees have in common with migrants is that in a majority (more than 90 percent) they do not move beyond their own neighboring countries. "Reception in the region" is a reality that supports the proposed policy of European Union has already preceded.
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