A new report released today by the Overseas Development Institute finds that the billions of euros governments are spending on fences and cooperation agreements with third countries are having little impact.
In total, Europe spent €1.7 billion on fences and other border control measures between 2014 and 2016. Over the past year, the EU has committed €300 million to strengthening security and border controls in non-European countries. Even, more worrying are the wider, ripple effects as other countries are encouraged to emulate Europe’s approach with their own deterrence policies. “It’s highly risky because if others join this race to the bottom, it could result in even greater flows to Europe,” said Foresti. The forced closure of Kenya’s camps in Dadaab, hosting more than 300,000 Somali refugees, for example, could see some of those refugees making their way towards Europe.
“What we found particularly on border control is a very clear domino effect. If a country erects a wall, it’s only a matter of time before their neighbours do the same,” said ODI’s interim executive director Marta Foresti.
The result, notes the report, is millions of euros “poured into shifting burdens across individual countries in Europe, with little progress made on actually reducing the numbers arriving as a whole.”
In Sweden that has the highest number of asylum seekers as a proportion of the local population – ODI estimates that the cost per citizen in 2016 was €245. In the UK, which has taken in a relatively small number of refugees, the cost was just €16.
The EU has promised billions of euros to support economic development through bilateral agreements and trust funds aimed at discouraging would-be migrants from leaving home. Recently, the EU announced the Partnership Framework on Migration, which could see €9 billion in aid distributed over the next four years to countries that cooperate with the EU’s goals on reducing migration. Considering the amounts of money involved, there’s a surprising lack of evidence that this approach actually works to reduce migration flows. In fact, all the evidence suggests that, in the short term at least, migration actually increases when poor countries experience development and people have more resources and aspirations to travel.