On 16 April 2016, a High Level Dialogue (HLD) meeting on migration was held in Accra between Ghana and the European Union (EU). Ms Hanna Tetteh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana and Mr Prosper D.K. Bani, Minister for the Interior, met Mr. Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, who was visiting Ghana on behalf of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini.
- The EU and Ghana have long-standing political, cooperation and trade relations framed by the agreements between the EU and the ACP countries. The Cotonou Agreement provides a comprehensive, balanced and deep political dialogue and enhanced cooperation guided by the fundamental principles of ownership and joint responsibility, respect for human rights, good governance, democratic principles and the rule of law.
- The High Level Dialogue meeting in Accra follows the Africa-EU Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015, the Meeting on the Implementation of the Valletta Action Plan by ECOWAS Member States in February 2016 and recent technical and preparatory meetings between Ghana and the EU.
- Both parties discussed the implementation of the five pillars of the Valletta Declaration and Action Plan which are:
■ To address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement
■ To enhance cooperation on legal migration and mobility
■ To reinforce the protection of migrants and asylum seekers
■ To prevent and fight irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings
■ To work more closely to improve cooperation on return, readmission and reintegration
- Both parties recognized the importance of the recent adoption of the National Migration Policy (NMP) for Ghana on 5 April 2016. The NMP provides a comprehensive framework to manage migration for Ghana's sustainable development. The NMP has been formulated in accordance with the Constitution of Ghana and against the backdrop of several policy frameworks including the
Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II (2014-2017). It is anchored within the context of the 2006 African Union (AU) Strategic Framework for Migration and the 2008 ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration. The NMP addresses the different migration streams affecting the country. The NMP was formulated in consultation with a wide range of key stakeholders and adopted a participatory approach.
- Both parties recognized the coherence between the Valletta Declaration and Action Plan and the National Migration Policy for Ghana and agreed they constitute a good basis for concrete cooperation measures.
- The Ghanaian side was informed that in 2014, there were more than 120,000 Ghanaian legal residents in the EU 28, with United Kingdom, Italy and Germany as the most important countries of residence. In 2014, there were 4,660 Ghanaians found to be illegally present in the EU. Out of 4,285 return decisions in 2014, only 1,315 returns were effectively carried out, resulting in a return rate of 31%. The new data for 2015 seems to indicate a further deterioration with 29,5% return rate.
- Both parties acknowledged the importance of addressing the root causes of migration. The existing cooperation between Ghana and the EU and its Member States already addresses root causes through on-going programmes and specific migration initiatives such as the Ghanaian Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA).
Under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), a new programme has recently been adopted on employment and social protection (€ 31 million) and another one is under preparation in the agriculture sector (€ 160 million). Moreover, the EU launched a € 6 million initiative to support projects jointly managed by Local Authorities and Civil Society Organisations to promote local economic development and therefore to create jobs with special focus in the regions more prone to migration.
- Both parties noted that an EU Trust Fund of € 1.8 billion was set up at the Valetta Summit and that Ghana is eligible for programmes of a regional nature under Fund. In this context, the Government of Ghana is considering channels through which it can put forward programmes for consideration of the Operational Committee of the Fund.
These programmes in support of the new migration policy may include wealth creation, improving the agriculture sector, national biometrics registration, border management, establishment of the National Migration Commission, Research into the nature and scope of human trafficking into the EU countries. The EU stands ready to support Ghana in these areas.
- Both parties underlined the need for a swift implementation of the Valletta Declaration and Action Plan in relation to mobility, e.g. by an increase of the number of scholarships for students and academic staff through the EU supported Erasmus+ and promotion of migration schemes in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including training programmes for Ghanaian entrepreneurs in Europe.
- Both parties agreed that an effective return policy is an integral part of migration management and will deter further irregular migration. The National Migration Policy for Ghana identifies return, readmission and reintegration of emigrant Ghanaians and recognizes the challenges in this area.
In this context and in line with the Valletta Declaration and Action Plan, both parties agreed on the need to significantly increase in the short-term the speed and efficiency of procedures for returning and receiving irregular migrants and the timely issuance of travel documents required for return. The parties agreed to deepen the discussions at the technical level. Ghanaian authorities committed to organize pilot identification missions in EU Member States not later than June 2016.
- Both parties agreed that the Dialogue on migration should continue as noted in the Joint Conclusions of Ghana-EU Political Dialogue of 12 June 2015. The parties will set up a Ghana-EU Technical Working Group to speed up the process to adopt later this year a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility framework. The next Ghana-EU Political Dialogue is scheduled for May/June 2016 the parties will take stock of progress achieved in these areas.