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International Partnerships

Migration and forced displacement

Well-managed migration can enhance the development of both the countries of destination and origin and be beneficial for the migrants themselves and their families. To seize the opportunities, while minimising the risks of migration, it is essential for the global community to cooperate as no country can address migration and forced displacement on its own. In this context, the EU developed a comprehensive European approach to migration through which we strive to both protect migrants and refugees, and help partner countries address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement.

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the number of international migrants worldwide reached nearly 272 million in 2019. The global number of international migrants has grown faster than the world’s population: the share of international migrants in the total population increased from 2.8% in 2000 to 3.5% in 2019.

Most international migrants move between countries located within the same region. This number is expected to increase for many reasons including global population growth, increased connectivity, rising inequality, limited employment opportunities and climate change. Forced displacement is also rising, both within countries and across borders, as a result of violence, human rights violations or natural disasters.

Our international commitment

The international community recognises migration as a core development consideration in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (2015).

The 7th target of the 10th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG10) – target 10.7 – prescribes “to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”.

At EU level, the European Consensus on Development (2017) mirrors the UN 2030 Agenda and acknowledges both the challenges of migration and the opportunities it brings for inclusive growth and sustainable development when well-managed.

© European Union


Our approach to migration

In 2015, the EU defined a comprehensive and balanced approach to migration. In line with the European Agenda for Migration and the subsequent Partnership Framework, this approach is based on genuine partnership, mutual interest, and a meaningful dialogue with our partner countries to tailor our assistance to their specific needs.

EU trust funds - such as the EU Trust Fund for Africa and the EU Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis – are innovative financial tools that complement our regular development assistance and help us better implement our approach to migration.

We also mainstream migration considerations in existing geographical and thematic programmes.

Forced displacement

The total population of forcibly displaced worldwide is now at 79.5 million. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18, and 45.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs).

The Commission communication ‘Lives in dignity’ (2016) states our commitment to include forced displacement in our development programming and enhance the shared responsibility of this issue at global level.

This commitment translates into concrete action, as illustrates our early engagement in the most pressing displacement situations around the world: Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, Bangladesh (Rohingya crisis), and Venezuela.

Our assistance

We help our partner countries better deal with the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement, notably by:

  • fostering their resilience, stability, and security
  • helping them create socioeconomic and job opportunities, especially for young people
  • building their legislative, institutional, and operational capacities to improve their overall migration governance

We also help them harness the development benefits deriving from migration, by engaging with diaspora organisations and improving the governance and use of remittances.