Immigration topped the agenda at the 32nd session of the joint parliamentary assembly of the Africa Caribbean Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU), which opened in Nairobi, Kenya, on December 19.

“The history of humanity is the history of migrations. Zero migration has never existed, and it never will,” said Louis Michel (ALDE, BE), EU Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA). “We must manage migration flows in a human way, in line with our values. Fortress Europe is not working.”

The session was opened by Kenya’s President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, and attended by the Speaker of its National Assembly, Justin Bedan Njoka Muturi.

During the session, JPA Co-President for the ACP countries Netty Baldeh (Gambia) reaffirmed the importance of the ACP-EU partnership in the current political context. He said: “Our discussions are about people, not abstract themes or statistics, but concern humanity in general.”

In turn, Michel advocated consolidated cooperation. “With Brexit, the retreat into nationalism, the proliferation of conflicts in Syria, the Yemen and elsewhere, it is vital to reaffirm and reinforce our partnership,” he said.

“We must manage migration flows in a human way, in line with our values. Fortress Europe is not working,” added Michel.

The issue of migration and resettling migrants in their home countries will be further debated on December 21.

The role of trade in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will also be debated with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi.

Another debate slated for December 21 is on “Demographic growth: challenges and opportunities” and will focus on population growth issues and the consequences of strong demographic pressures in various regions of the world. Some African countries, such as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia will be among the most populated countries in the world by 2050.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly brings together MEPs and MPs from 78 EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries that have signed the Cotonou Agreement, which is the basis for ACP-EU cooperation and development work.