Europe ‘weak’ to address mass migration from Africa, says Sant

Alfred Sant: ‘Free movement of labour cannot be excised from free movement of goods and services’

Alfred Sant
Alfred Sant

Former prime minister and Labour MEP Alfred Sant has said Europe is “conceptually and politically” in a weak position to demand a transparent give-and-take from African countries over migration to Europe.

Addressing the EP in a debate on the preparation of the Valletta Summit, Sant said that migration was a “shared responsibility of countries of origin, transit and destination” but that it was hard to feel optimistic about the prospects of Euro-African cooperation on migrant movements and “socio-economic give-and-take”.

Sant said that in a globalised neoliberal economy, the free movement of labour could not be separated from the free movement of goods and services. “For hundreds of thousands of Africans, immigration has become their only hope,” Sant said.

“Since the heyday of neo-colonialism in Africa, things have not improved much. Through the International Monetary Fund and other bodies, the West imposed its neoliberal model of development on most African countries. Privatisation, the removal of protectionism, and tailor-made forms of project-tied aid supposedly liberalised economies but failed to trigger sufficient growth. They confirmed the pattern of extractive industries and agricultural commodity production where value added was produced by, among others, European and Chinese multinationals outside Africa,” Sant said.

The MEP said that together with accelerated urbanisation and impoverished farm communities, “unsurprisingly corruption and public mismanagement did not abate; they flourished.”