This paper reviews new evidence on the trends and patterns of migration between Africa and Europe since the mid-1970s, and discusses their congruency with the changing context of migration policy. Using data from the Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG) and the Migration between Africa and Europe (MAFE) projects, we compare flows and policies of three African and six European destination countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, and Senegal, on the one hand; and Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK, on the other). The paper focuses on topics that quantitative studies usually overlook due to the lack of data, namely the propensity to out-migrate, legal status at entry, routes of migration, and propensity to return. We show that times of restrictions in Europe do not correspond to less African out-migration, but rather to more unauthorized migration and fewer returns. We further show that trends in African migration differ greatly between historical and new destination countries in Europe.