International migration from SSA to Europe has recently generated both increased public attention and new policy measures. Yet the scope, nature and likely development of SSA migration to Europe are still poorly understood. In turn, this means that European immigration policies may prove ineffective. In an attempt to overcome this lack of understanding, the 'Migration between Africa and Europe' (MAFE) project, funded by the EU, was established. It set out to collect unique data on the characteristics and behaviour of migrants moving from sub-Saharan countries to Europe. Comparable data on African migration have been collected in both sending and receiving countries. Importantly, this data includes background information on individuals as well as data linking their histories to other details in both the origin and destination countries. Based on the initial analyses of the MAFE project, very clear changes in migration trends and strong differences across countries are evident. In addition, a first comparison was conducted to investigate gender differences in international migration. The MAFE team also studied the family arrangements of migrants in three African migration flows by comparing three groups of families: current migrants, non-migrants and return-migrants. In each case, the preliminary results indicated significant differences between the three family groups. Future research in the project will involve completing the full data analysis and drawing up comparative reports. Meanwhile, the MAFE project is informing the continuing debate on migration and development, and creating sustained and mutual interest in EU–Africa cooperation on migration.