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S&D President Gianni Pittella takes the floor during the European Parliament debate on the state of play of the external aspects of the European migration agenda: towards a new "Migration Compact".

Following the statement by the European Commission on the proposals for a new migration partnership framework focused on mainstreaming the EU migration policy and tackling the root causes of migration from Africa, S&D Group President Gianni Pittella said:

"We are at a turning point because for the first time Europe is realising the necessity of putting Africa at the heart of EU strategy, both in the short and long term. We have called for this repeatedly over the last few years. We need both measures to stabilise the flow of refugees into Europe and sustained investment in the regions where these migrants arrive from. This will help boost the economies and address the underlying reasons causing people to flee - wars, violence, poverty and exploitation.

"As pointed out by the Italian government, African countries must be treated as genuine partners, not simply passive recipients of aid money. This is not just about solving the refugee crisis, Africa is an essential partner for many of the common challenges we face - from tackling climate change to encouraging growth and development. Our new approach must reflect this: no more 'for Africa' but 'with Africa'.

"We very much welcome the Commission’s coherent and tailored plans for engaging with 16 different African countries. This will bring together a number of tools from different policy areas and will create a comprehensive plan for each different country. Different partners face different challenges and it is essential that this is recognised.

"Big questions remain over how the European Commission will put this in practice and if all member states will demonstrate their responsibility in contributing to the Investment plan for Africa. We need to see clear plans on how the necessary financial instruments will work and where the funding will come from.

"We need all the 28 members to wake up and see that growth and development in Africa is both essential for solving Europe’s short term problems and in our mutual long term interests."

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