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AUC and EC Convene REC Representatives to Advance the MME Agenda
The African Union (AU) hosted the Technical Meeting on Enhancing Migration, Mobility, Employment and Higher Education in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) within the framework of the Africa-EU MME Partnership in Addis Ababa.
The RECs can significantly contribute to the goals of the Africa EU MME Partnership. Advancing the four strategic areas of the Partnership (Migration, Mobility, Employment and Higher Education) requires understanding the programmes, policies and strategies of the RECs in these areas, as they constitute the collectively crafted regional plans of their Member States. Furthermore it also requires understanding the obstacles that the RECs face in implementing these plans, and how these challenges can be incrementally addressed. The RECs gathered on 5 - 6 July 2012 in Addis Ababa to present their policy frameworks, programmes and coordination mechanisms in these areas, and exchange best practices. ECOWAS, ECCAS, EAC, COMESA and SADC attended the meeting, as well as the states chairing these RECs and representatives from international organisations. The meeting facilitated the completion of a stocktaking exercise of their MME work, which has been conducted under the MME Support Project.
In his opening remarks, Dr Johan Strijdom, Head of the AUC Social Welfare Division, acknowledged that the meeting opened 'a window to share the findings of the stocktaking exercise, experiences of the RECs and other stakeholders, identify the various gaps faced by the RECs and make recommendations to overcome the shortcomings and obstacles in view of strengthening the roles of the RECs in the MME Partnership’.
In addition, the meeting looked at the state of play of the relevant initiatives of the MME action plan in terms of employment, social protection and higher education. Participants developed recommendations on how to advance employment, social protection and higher education in the RECs and the role of the RECs in the MME initiatives.
Free movement is an essential vector of regional integration, as Nicola Bellomo, chargé d’affaires a.i at the EU Delegation to the African Union, recalled in his opening statement: ‘integration – and the development gains which it brings – necessitates regional mobility. The important dynamic between the movement of people and trade as an impetus for development is increasingly acknowledged. The free movement of people contributes inter alia to trade facilitation, investment, labor efficiency and skills development'.
The meeting, therefore, paid particular attention to the issue of free movement, which is a key objective of all the RECs. Participants developed recommendations for advancing free movement in the RECs, and ways in which the MME Partnership can contribute to moving this agenda forward.
More information about the meeting can be found here.