Africa and Fortress Europe: Threats and Opportunities – Edited by B. Gebrewold


Africa and Fortress Europe: Threats and Opportunities , edited by B.Gebrewold ( Aldershot : Ashgate , 2007 , ISBN 9780754672043 ); xv + 186pp. , £50 hb .

Africa and Fortress Europe is a timely and topical edited volume about contemporary EU–sub-Saharan Africa relations concerning migration. The originality of this contribution to the expanding literature on the subject stems from its interdisciplinary character focusing on the tripartite link between security, development and migration. Its objective is to ‘discuss migration from the background of conflict as a push factor’ in order to demystify the process of ‘securitization of migration’. The eclectic group of contributors comprising both academics and EU officials lends a conceptual and a hands-on approach to the analysis, respectively, making it a refreshing and valuable contribution to the current EU–sub-Saharan Africa migration debate.

The nine chapters are divided into two main parts, ‘Threats from Africa’ and ‘The Responses of the EU’. The first part concentrates on the three broad regions of sub-Saharan Africa – East, West and South – and on the mechanisms used to curb conflict both regionally and sub-regionally, whilst attempting to understand today's EU–sub-Saharan African migratory flows in relation to the existing theories of migration and the process of globalization. The second part dwells on the reaction from the EU to the increasing migration from sub-Saharan Africa to its borders, most notably provided by the Executive Director of FRONTEX and the Principal Administrator of the Council's DGE IX Civilian Crisis Management.

In accordance with its aim, this volume discusses migration from a conflict viewpoint, subsequently linking it with the current ‘securitization of migration’ process at the EU level. The complementarity of both parts provides a sound assessment of the ‘securitization of migration’ paradigm, it transpiring that conflict is a major generator of migration from sub-Saharan Africa into the EU but not its sole raison d'être. It suggests a more comprehensive understanding of this migratory drive through a holistic standpoint combining the plethora of existing migration theories with the phenomenon of cultural globalization and the role of the mass media. The incisive concentration on security is regarded as undermining the real issue at hand, namely the provision of adequate means to help the African poor improve their livelihoods. While the EU seems intent on combining security, development and migration in its relations with sub-Saharan Africa, the ‘securitization’ of EU migration policy makes Fortress Europe a genuine possibility in the future.

Overall, this collection raises issues of great significance to the EU–sub-Saharan Africa migration debate. Additional cross-referencing and fluidity between chapters could improve this analysis, yet the book's strength lies in its interdisciplinary quality, sense of history and humanitarianism. As the editor concludes, even with Fortress Europe remaining a possibility, Africa must react and invert the ‘securitization of migration’ paradigm by endorsing effective endogenous approaches to conflict management and poverty reduction applicable on the ground.