Challenges in EU-African Migration Cooperation: West African Perspectives on Forced Return
Improving cooperation on the return and readmission of West African migrants has been central for the EU in recent years, yet return numbers remain low.
In West Africa, the issue of return, and in particular forced return, remains highly sensitive. Cooperating with EU member states on forced return may hurt the domestic legitimacy of governments in countries like the Gambia, Nigeria, Niger, and Senegal.
While cooperation on return may help to attract development funds, governments and citizens fear a loss of remittances in the case of large-scale returns.
Migration cooperation with the EU has led to competition and conflicts over mandates between government institutions and reduced local ownership of migration governance.
Better cooperation on return depends on the EU expanding opportunities for legal migration to Europe, as highlighted by the Valetta action plan. Otherwise, cooperation would remain biased toward restrictive policies, which will only become more contested in the long run.