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Thank you very much.
Premièrement, je voudrais remercier mes amis et collègues d’avoir organisé cette rencontre qui nous aide à avoir une approche différente.
I will switch to English, warning you that you might hear from me a narrative that is rightly different from the one that you receive as a mainstream narrative from European media in these months and in these years.
This is why I am thanking you, because you help us focus on the positive potential of migration, while in the public debate migration is too often associated with the words crisis, problem or even threat - and I guess we heard that words resonating even in the opening of the General Assembly [of the United Nations] today - while it is simply a fact of life, a fact of history; it has always been there. It will always be; people move, and this is normal and this is good.
Human mobility can create immense opportunities for economic and cultural growth, both in countries of origin and in countries of destination. If you think of our cultures, of our languages, of our food, of our arts, architectures, literature, spirituality and religion, if you think of our families, that is self-evident.
I believe that we Europeans often forget our recent history. We forget that we used to be migrants until not so long ago, and European migration to the Americas, for instance, made and still makes both our continents richer and stronger. We are in New York. Just think of the family names of the recent mayors or governors of New York and you simply and quickly understand that most of them are Italians.
The same is true about migration today and it is true for migration inside Africa, which, we must always remember and remind it, it is larger than the migration from Africa to the rest of the world. The contribution of African migrants to African economies is immense. Their remittances are supporting productive investment in their own countries and they are pushing for a fast digitalisation of Africa's banking system.
Migrants - both men and women - are helping modernise Africa's agriculture and they support trade inside Africa. Only if we govern human mobility together, can we explore its full potential for human development, which is indeed significant.
I am glad to be here today, as just last week, we have launched - and I was presenting it in Brussels - an Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs to help fulfill Africa's immense potential, investing in its human capital, bringing new private investments to all parts of the continent, starting from the most fragile countries and areas, inside the most fragile countries, and supporting the structural transformation that Africa wants and needs.
We do this because we believe that the old donor-recipient approach that has been the basis for our immense cooperation with Africa over the decades is not enough anymore, and we have discussed this with our African partners and friends at length, especially during this last year and especially at the last European Union-African Union Summit in Abidjan in November last year, where we had really a shift in the approach - bringing our partnership to a political partnership of equals, where we listen to each other's needs, aspirations and desires, and shape the form of our partnership together.
Because Africans know perfectly well what they need for their own development. Africans know, for instance, that it is often easier for them to trade with Europe than to trade with their neighbours. It is easier to fly from every capital of Africa to Europe than among themselves. And for sure, this is an opportunity. But this is also a limit to overcome.
This is something that we can put on the agenda in a powerful way together. Africans look for and ask for skills, infrastructure, access to credit, for a system where you do not have to bribe someone to open a new firm, a governance that works - all things on which we can build partnerships that can deliver for both of us.
This is what we mean when we talk about a partnership of equals. We are ready to support African solutions that make Africa stronger, because a stronger Africa makes Europe stronger too. There is no way to have a strong Europe, a stable Europe, a prosperous Europe without a strong, secure and prosperous Africa. We are only a few kilometres away, we are one. Actually, there are parts of Europe that are South of the Northern part of Africa.
I can share with you an anecdote: during the Maltese Presidency I was flying from Tunis to Valletta and actually, I was flying South - from Africa to Europe. This is a mindset we need to change.
This is also applying to migration. In these years, we have set up a number of tools to support a better African governance of migration flows. First, the trilateral cooperation among the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations - and namely the IOM [International Organisation for Migration] and the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights] has created an unprecedented mechanism for cooperation between our continents, a system where we identify our common interest, our common priorities, and work together on concrete, practical, sustainable win-win solutions.
For instance, in November in Abidjan at our [African Union - European Union] Summit, we all shared a sense of responsibility and urgency to free thousands of Africans from detention centers inside Libya and to give them the opportunity for a safe and dignified return. Through our cooperation, the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations - and namely the excellent work that the IOM and the UNHCR have done together with us - we helped over 30,000 Africans to go back home safely in a voluntary, accompanied and protected way from Libya.
This is a good demonstration of what we can achieve when we join forces towards a common goal. Likewise, the Global Compact on Migration is a historic opportunity to move towards a more sustainable governance of human mobility, and I believe [the intergovernmental Conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to be held on 10 - 11 December in] Marrakesh will be a moment in history, where the world will recognise the right approach to a global phenomenon that is concerning all of us.
Together we can pass the message that migration can be governed in a way that is humane, sustainable and positive. Because migration can be an opportunity for those who leave, for those who stay and for those who welcome, but it has to be governed. And it cannot be governed, if it is not governed by all of us together, with a sense of partnership and full ownership by Africa and its people.
Managing migration, we believe, is first and foremost an African interest and it can contribute to unlocking Africa's great potential and this is why we are determined to work on this together, as equal partners.
Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I160835