Ep 7: EU-Africa “Cooperation” and its Discontents
Amanda Bisong examines the imbalances of Europe’s migration diplomacy and charts an alternative route ahead.
How are policies governing human movement between Europe and Africa formulated?
Political elites in both continents like to refer to migration diplomacy involving the EU and African countries as “cooperation” based on partnerships between equals. Critics refer to it as “externalization” – a process of domination in which Europe’s migration controls (and priorities) are foisted upon the Global South.
In this episode, Amanda Bisong of the European Centre for Development Policy Management considers both sides of this argument. Tracing the contemporary history of EU-Africa “cooperation” in the field of migration to the establishment of the Schengen Area, she maps its drivers, dynamics and consequences for Africa – intended and unintended.
Drawing upon extensive research and close observation of EU policy in West Africa in particular, Bisong analyses the direction of migration diplomacy since the so-called migration “crisis” of 2015. Reflecting on contradictions and imbalances, she offers policymakers in Europe and Africa recommendations and considers future prospects for a change in direction.
Amanda Bisong is a Policy officer in the AU-EU relations and migration and mobility workstreams of ECDPM, Maastricht, The Netherlands. She has a background in Law and Master degrees in International Law and Economics and International Trade Policy and Trade Law. Her focus research areas are on migration agreements, labour migration, exploring the linkages between trade and migration in Africa, migration governance, and the interplay between regional and national commitments.
Franzisca Zanker, “Managing or restricting movement? Diverging approaches of African and European migration governance” (2019) Comparative Migration Studies 7 (17)
About Curated Conversations
The Curated Conversations: Exploring the Politics of Migration through Ideas (Season I) podcast series examines the past, present, and possible futures of migration within and from the African continent. It approaches migration with a critical and philosophical lens, drawing on the expertise of leading experts, thinkers, and practitioners in a series of in-depth interviews and discussions about migration histories and policy regimes. The geographical scope of the series is broad, with coverage spanning the length and breath of the continent in all its global connections. Experts from across Africa and its Euro-American diaspora are invited to share their knowledge, lived experience, and diverse perspectives on the interplay between borders and social phenomena.
Curated Conversations seeks to forge a new discussion around African migration in Europe and the West, but also within Africa itself: one that foregrounds African knowledge, lived experience, and political thought towards a humane and socially just order of mobility. The questions it asks include: What kind of ideas inform current migration policies in Africa? Where do they fall short, and what kinds of alternatives can we imagine?
The conversations were recorded between November 2022 and July 2023.
Curated by Ali Nobil Ahmad and Linah Kinya, African Migration Hub, Heinrich Böll Foundation. Co-published by African Arguments and the Heinrich Boll Foundation, Horn of Africa Office. Produced in Nairobi by Amp Studios Africa