"Trust fund for Africa must not be left unfunded or used solely for our short-term interests", say S&D MEPs

Trust fund for Africa must not be left unfunded or used solely for our short-term interests, say S&D MEPs, Gianni Pittella, Valletta summit, reduce refugee flows, 1.8 billion, UN Sustainable Development Goals, the basis of the EU's development policy, Ric

S&D MEPs have welcomed the creation of a trust fund for Africa but have warned that it risks being ineffective unless there are guarantees about where money will come from and what it will be used for.

Gianni Pittella, president of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, said:

"The message coming out of the Valletta summit is very worrying. Development assistance should be aimed at combating poverty and certainly not used as an unsavoury bargaining chip to reduce refugee flows or accept refugee returns. We must realise that as long as African Countries remain underdeveloped or under the rule of dictatorships, then people will continue to flee and search for a better life in Europe."

"Although we welcome the unanimous adoption of a declaration and action plan for EU-Africa relations, we must push member states to support the fund, to go above and beyond the 1.8 billion pledged so far. The creation of a trust fund to help promote stability and foster growth can be a powerful tool to help African countries develop. However, it will only do so if we are serious about funding it and don't use it simply as a way of achieving our own short-term objectives. Too often we make grand promises that end up never being met or are met by simply reassigning existing funds. We cannot allow this to happen this time!"

Richard Howitt, S&D spokesperson for foreign affairs who was in Valletta ahead of the summit, said:

"As Social Democrats, we have a shared commitment to a comprehensive approach which balances priorities to receive refugees with those to manage migration flows; to provide the right short-term response to current pressures but also to remember the long-term perspective which allows us to address the underlying causes of the refugee crisis. The focus of this trust fund must address this long-term perspective by stimulating African development. We should focus on making the newly agreed UN Sustainable Development Goals, the basis of the EU's development policy."

"Of course increased funding is only one element in tackling the current crisis. Refugees will continue to come until the wars in the Middle East and in Africa are resolved. We welcome the recent progress in Libya and the ongoing diplomatic efforts in Syria but still far more needs to be done here, as well as in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa."