Policy brief

Europe’s role in North Africa: development, investment and migration

The authors of this Policy Contribution propose five ways in which EU policymakers can contribute to development in North Africa and build partnership

Publishing date
08 April 2017

This paper was prepared for, and presented at, the informal ECOFIN meeting of EU finance ministers in Malta on 8 April 2017, with the title Boosting private investment in North Africa and beyond: what role for European Institutions?

Africa’s population is projected to reach almost 2.5 billion by 2050. Migration from Africa to the EU is relatively stable, at around 500,000 migrants per year, or 0.1 percent of the EU population, yet irregular immigration into the EU has increased recently.

Development is often seen as the way to reduce migration but the development-migration nexus is complex. At low levels of development, migration might increase with rising GDP per capita. This applies to most of sub-Saharan Africa.

By contrast, North African countries are among the continent’s more developed economies. Their geographical positions make them natural partners for the EU. The region is diverse but political instability has been a common feature that in recent years has hindered economic development. Cyclical factors and deep-rooted structural weaknesses have also contributed to weak economic performance. Conditions for business are relatively poor and trade barriers in some sectors have prevented integration either between these countries or into global value chains. The authors of this Policy Contribution propose five ways in which EU policymakers can contribute to development in North Africa and build partnerships on trade, investment and migration.

About the authors

  • Guntram B. Wolff

    Guntram Wolff is the Director of Bruegel. Over his career, he has contributed to research on European political economy and governance, fiscal, monetary and financial policy, climate change and geoeconomics. Under his leadership, Bruegel has been regularly ranked among the top global think tanks and has grown in influence and impact with a team of now almost 40 recognized scholars and around 65 total staff. Bruegel is also recognized for its outstanding transparency.

    A recognized thought leader and academic, he regularly testifies at the European Finance Ministers' ECOFIN meeting, the European Parliament, the German Parliament (Bundestag) and the French Parliament (Assemblée Nationale). From 2012-16, he was a member of the French prime minister's Conseil d'Analyse Economique. In 2018, then IMF managing director Christine Lagarde appointed him to the external advisory group on surveillance to review the Fund’s priorities. In 2021, he was appointed to the G20 high level independent panel on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. He is also a professor (part-time) at the Solvay Brussels School of Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he teaches economics of European integration.

    He joined Bruegel from the European Commission, where he worked on the macroeconomics of the euro area and the reform of euro area governance. Prior to joining the Commission, he was coordinating the research team on fiscal policy at Deutsche Bundesbank. He also worked as an external adviser to the International Monetary Fund.

    He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Bonn and studied in Bonn, Toulouse, Pittsburgh and Passau. He taught economics at the University of Pittsburgh and at Université libre de Bruxelles. He has published numerous papers in leading academic journals. His columns and policy work are published and cited in leading international media and policy outlets. Guntram is fluent in German, English, French and has good notions of Bulgarian and Spanish.

  • Uri Dadush

    Uri Dadush is a non-resident scholar at Bruegel, based in Washington, DC and a Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South in Rabat, Morocco. He is also Principal of Economic Policy International, LLC, providing consulting services to international organizations as well as corporations. He teaches international trade policy at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and a course on globalization and development in the executive education program of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) and the Mohammed VI Polytechnic. He is a co-chair of the Trade, Investment and Globalization Task-Force of the T20. He was Vice-Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Trade and Investment at the World Economic Forum. His books include “WTO Accessions and Trade Multilateralism” (with Chiedu Osakwe, co-editor), “Juggernaut: How Emerging Markets Are Transforming Globalization” (with William Shaw), “Inequality in America” (with Kemal Dervis and others), “Currency Wars” (with Vera Eidelman, co-editor) and “Paradigm Lost: The Euro in Crisis”.

    Dadush was previously Director of the International Economics Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Director of International Trade, as well as Director of Economic Policy, and Director of the Development Prospects Group at the World Bank. Based previously in London, Brussels, and Milan, he spent 15 years in the private sector, where he was President of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Group Vice President of Data Resources, Inc., and a consultant with Mc Kinsey and Co. His columns have appeared in the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Il Sole 24 Ore, and L’Espresso. He has a B.A. and M.A. in Economics from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard University.

  • Maria Demertzis

    Maria Demertzis is the interim Director at Bruegel. She has previously worked at the European Commission and the research department of the Dutch Central Bank. She has also held academic positions at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the USA and the University of Strathclyde in the UK, from where she holds a PhD in economics. She has published extensively in international academic journals and contributed regular policy inputs to both the European Commission's and the Dutch Central Bank's policy outlets.

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