Launched during the conference between European and African heads of state in Valletta in November 2015, the Emergency Trust Fund to tackle the root causes of migration in Africa is a financial instrument placed outside the EU budget, and therefore not subject to scrutiny by the Community Parliament. In the name of the emergency, the fund uses accelerated procedures, without systematically resorting to competitive tenders.
From 2015 to the end of 2020, the fund raised 620 million euros of voluntary contributions from the member states (EU plus Switzerland and Norway), to supplement 4.4 billion euros from EU funds, primarily the European Fund for Development. The top three donors were Germany (228 million), Italy (123 million) and Denmark (56 million).
Of the three “windows”, or regional implementation areas — Sahel and Lake Chad, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa — the first receives the most significant slice of contributions. Among the 24 beneficiary African states, Sudan (442 million euros) ranks first, followed by Ethiopia (336 million), Somalia (312 million), Libya (309 million), and Niger (279 million). In Libya, 100 percent of the funds, the highest number of all countries, goes to migration management projects.
While donor states can link their contributions to particular countries, geographical areas and themes, the decision-making process takes place within a strategic board and an operational committee, through meetings in which beneficiary states can also participate, but without the right to vote.
A few notes: by May 2019, just 1.5 per cent of the funds earmarked for migration management had been invested to create regular avenues, according to an Oxfam policy paper, despite this being one of the five pillars underlying the Action Plan on migration drawn up in Valletta.
It must also be said that Trust Fund allocations in large part circle back: 37 percent of those who benefit from them and manage the projects are European actors and governments, followed by United Nations agencies and international NGOs.
The future of the Trust Fund, extended until the end of 2021, is uncertain. Will it be absorbed into the new maxi Cooperation and Neighborhood Instrument, as seems plausible, or will it be renewed as a standalone fund?