“Migration is very emotional, having to do with ideas of citizenship and how society is organized. I guess Member states do not mind if a bunch of technically minded nerds do tariffs for them” (EU Commission, DG Trade staff, Brussels).
From this, it is concluded that the inter-regional cooperation between the EU and the ECOWAS bares huge potential to mitigate the underlying socio-economic challenges that both regions experience. This in turn could indirectly transform the inter-regional migration dynamics. This research reveals that the potential of inter-regional cooperation to change the prevailing migration patterns is not to be sought with political migration policy frameworks. Rather, as a result of the particular economic character of inter-regional migration, and the strong trade mandate of the two regional bodies, potential lays in the area of economic policies.
The ongoing trade negotiations between the regions still have to overtake numerous hurdles in order to set up the framework, which could guide the future trade relations between the regions. From this, a number of policy recommendations can be derived:
· Up to date, the EU predominantly used the trade in service regulative framework, in particular to enable the strong European skilled service sector access to foreign markets. EU policy makers should assess how to possibly incorporate the service dimension under Mode 4 (the movement of natural persons), in the EPAs with the ECOWAS, as a tool to respond to sector specific labor demands of European labor markets (e.g. construction). Here, they should incorporate the peculiar labor needs of West African societies.
· The major focus of the EPAs has been allocated to the development dimension of a safe and stable investment climate. While this is a pivotal precondition to sound trade relations, the unproportional focus on the development dimension left aside the actual initiation of trade, investment and technology transfer. EU policy makers should use the EPA framework as a means to stimulate trade and investment with especially the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, which is the heart of both, the European and the West African economies.
· European national governments play a central role in this. National economic policies should incorporate the communication of the trade and investment opportunities within the West African region, especially towards the European SME sector. It is this sector which is flexible and can respond within a relatively short period of time to investment opportunities in a widely unknown market such as the West African market.
· The EPAs have often been communicated as an EU tool to exploit its respective trade partners. Certain asymmetric negotiation dynamics may potentially favor unequal agreements. However, ECOWAS policy makers should proactively use the EPAs as an opportunity to promote their own interests as in the immense potential of the West African economy, in particular its dominating SME sector, in order to attract international investors and stimulate trade.
· Both the ECOWAS and West African governments have to comprehend that the limited space at hand of the EU and European governments on migration policies is mainly electoral. Therefore, ECOWAS policy makers should use the trade in service dimension as an opportunity. They should assess the potential that the provisions under Mode 4 have with regard to playing out their comparative advantage of abundant, cheap and increasingly well educated labor forces.
West African governments play a pivotal role in this. With the implementation of policy frameworks on trade, investment and technology transfer, they should keep in focus that these are not ends in themselves but rather a means to bring about socio-economic prosperity to the entirety of the West African society.
>>> read Part I
. of I
*picture original ehow.com