The leader of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) party group in the European Parliament has met with several African leaders in preparation for the European Union-African Union summit in Abidjan at the end of November.

After his meetings, Gianni Pittella said: “From very serious human rights violations against migrants in Libya, to the fight against terrorism and trafficking in weapons, drugs and human beings in the Sahel, as well as the instability in central Africa, the African continent is still plagued by numerous threats, which are holding back a region which is booming economically.”

According to Pittella, the sale of slaves in migrant detention centres is a “real crime against humanity”. He said it “reminds us of the urgent need to put an end to the barbarism gripping Libya” and called for the international community to intervene to close the detention centres and replace them with reception centres that meet international humanitarian standards, under the protection of the United Nations.

“The European Socialists and Democrats have always emphasised that an approach which focuses exclusively on the security aspect of the migration phenomenon is not sufficient to resolve the problem,” he added. “We must prioritise opening legal routes and creating an ambitious, multi-dimensional and truly equal partnership with our African partners also to tackle the root causes of the migration flows effectively, especially poverty, bad governance and instability. We must prioritise official development assistance, support sustainable investment in the framework of the 2030 Agenda – especially to create jobs for young people and women – strengthen democracy and human rights, fight against terrorism and improve security.”

According to Pittella, the EU-AU summit in Abidjan must lead to specific and ambitious proposals that can address the hopes of young people and not just the urgent questions about migration.

“If Europe wants to guarantee a better future for its citizens, it must invest in Africa and with Africa.”