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European elections: much migration, little Africa

People walk towards a banner promoting the European elections in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 10 April 2024.

Image Source : Shutterstock

by José Segura Clavell

First Published in: May.20,2024

Jun.03, 2024

In a few days, an election campaign for the European elections will begin, and you can bet that migration will dominate the debates. Unfortunately, we won't hear any proposals to improve the situation in Africa.

There is very little time left until the European elections. Voting will take place next Sunday, June 9, and in just one week, on Friday, May 24th, the election campaign will begin. Towns and cities across Spain and the EU countries will be filled with posters containing messages to attract citizens' votes. And during these campaign days, across Europe, there will be a lot, a great deal, of talk about immigration. It's no coincidence that two days before the start of the campaign across Europe, fifteen countries, led by Denmark, published a joint document calling on the European Union, that vague 'Brussels' so often used as a subject in European information, to explore the measure of creating centers outside the community territory to which migrants rescued at sea can be taken. Denmark, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania, and Finland, through a joint letter agreed upon by their interior ministers, call on the European Commission to implement “innovative formulas” to curb the arrival of migrants in Europe. They seek more agreements like those signed with Tunisia, for example, and the establishment of such centers in third countries, inspired by the agreement reached by the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, to take migrants rescued at sea to a non-EU country like Albania in exchange for money, even violating the globally accepted precepts since the early '80s, as outlined in the Montego Bay Convention regarding the rescue of lives at sea, the definition of international waters, and disregarding the humanitarian concept of ‘shipwrecked.’ The United Kingdom, already outside the European Union after the Brexit, began to pave the way by announcing an agreement with Rwanda, which, although initially challenged by British judges, is on its way to become a law. That the European Union, as a consequence of socially misguided policies, has created the ideal environment for the growth of the far right (fueled further by the indiscriminate use of disinformation) is neither new nor surprising. In fact, the recently approved European Pact on Migration and Asylum, which received final approval just two days ago, is clear evidence of this. Faced with the upcoming elections and the highly predictable rise of the far right, they facilitated an agreement that many countries (most of them signatories of the document calling for innovative ways to externalize borders) considered weak: what they really want is to achieve a ‘Fortress Europe’, an isolated continent where entry is not possible, even though they are aware that our economic system will require many, many thousands of migrants in sectors such as agriculture, for example. That's why I have mentioned several times in these articles that this issue, migration, will be one of the main topics, if not the most important, dominating the debates and arguments of candidates eager to secure the well-paid seats in Brussels and Strasbourg, the two locations of the European Parliament. What is also becoming increasingly evident to me is that the more we talk about migration, the less we talk about Africa. It might sound like a contradiction, but it's true. Within the narrative framework about the African continent that the far right has managed to impose around migration, migration is a nebulous threat, with hundreds of thousands of 'military-aged young men' desperate to reach our land and do whatever it takes to survive at the expense of our well-being, our health, and our privileges. I trust you have understood my irony and the anger it causes me to see that beyond these simplistic and stereotyped statements, there is no real conversation about Africa, about Africans, and about the need for us to radically change our policies to stop turning our backs on them and focusing everything on the threat of boats and rafts. In this campaign, there will be no talk about conflicts like the one in Sudan, cruelly fueled by the spurious interests of global geopolitics, nor will there be much discussion about insecurity in the Sahel, exacerbated after the departure of European missions (even if they were little or not at all effective). There will be no talk about climate change in Africa, its brutal impact it is having, and the famines it generates. Africa will not be discussed in terms of economic potential, the necessary development of its electrical infrastructure, its privileged position to develop renewable energies, or generate green hydrogen. There will be no talk of African technological development, startups, or the significant advances they are making through mobile phone payments, an area in which they are pioneers. For long time, by Europeans, Africa has been seen as the separate continent, as a region distant from the rest of the world and simply described as a passive victim of the slave trade that has not been compensated for the human and natural exploitations it has suffered. Future Members of the European Parliament must be aware that African citizens are tired of European paternalism and have become aware of their power and capacity as peoples. Africa is the second-largest continent in the world, also the second most populous, with spectacular population growth. However, it is indeed the poorest region on the planet, with a GDP that barely represents 3% of the global total. Sadly, despite our geographical proximity, Europe has been diminishing the intensity of its ties with Africa, resulting in increased political connections with other powers such as Russia, China, Turkey, or with the United Arab Emirates or Qatar’s petrodollars. In the new Cold War between the European Union and Russia, African countries have become valuable pieces from a political-military perspective. From past European paternalism, we have moved to new situations in which China has become the primary investor in the African continent, displacing Europe, and the United States. As we mentioned in previous articles, China has done this by exchanging infrastructure for raw materials, but also leaving behind a financial debt that creates absolute dependence, a trap for many African countries. Ladies and gentlemen, future Members of the European Parliament: Europe cannot afford to become a secondary actor in an Africa that has decided to seek new partners to support its legitimate aspiration to play a greater role in world politics, as evidenced by its demand for presence in the G-20 and the United Nations Security Council. If Europe continues to cease being a priority partner for the African continent, the problem will affect Europeans more than Africans. The Africa-Europe relationship requires a new strategy that entails a more equitable balance of benefits and responsibilities, with a shared and long-term vision. We need to strengthen the European Union-African Union relations, and I doubt that this improvement can be achieved by implementing cruel "imaginative measures" that involve subcontracting migrant prisons in third countries, no matter how secure they claim to be. Who can build trust that way? In the Canary Islands, don't forget, we have a lot at stake. Geographically, our islands are African; it's our neighborhood and, in a way, our close family. And family needs to be treated and cared for properly.

Article published in Kiosco Insular,, and Canarias 7 on May 17th and 18th, 2024.

First published in :

Casa África / Spain


José Segura Clavell

José Segura Clavell was born on 4 July 1944 in Barcelona. Married with 3 children, he is a Doctor in Chemical Sciences, Professor of Thermodynamics at the Official Nautical School of Tenerife and Professor of Applied Physics at the University of La Laguna. A member of the Socialist Party, he was a councillor of the Cabildo of Tenerife from 1979 to 1991, and president from 1983 to 1987. In 1989 he was elected senator for the island of Tenerife, a post he held simultaneously for two years (1991-1993) with that of mayor of San Cristóbal de La Laguna. Between 1993 and 1996, he again served as senator. In 1996, he was elected deputy for the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife until 2004, when he resigned from Congress to take up the post of Government Delegate in the Canary Islands (2004-2008).  He has been awarded the Gold Medal of the island of Tenerife, the Silver Cross of Merit of the Civil Guard and the Grand Cross of the Order of Military Merit. Author of books on Thermodynamics, irregular immigration, Special Register of Ships, air transport, climate change, electricity reform, strategic plan for the Canary Islands, among others, and 4 volumes with his articles on Africa written since he was appointed Director General of Casa África on 18 March 2019. 

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