Recent developments have shown that the migratory pressure from Africa and various Asian countries towards the EU is high and migrants are willing to take significant risks for the opportunity of a better life in the EU. In response to the high number of both refugees and economic migrants embarking on the perilous journey to the EU via the Mediterranean, EU external cooperation in migration has increased considerably in terms of bilateral partnerships with third countries and of funds committed to them. These partnership agreements with third countries can serve as a useful tool to better regulate migration flows for the benefit of all parties involved: Countries of origin, migrants themselves, and receiving EU member states. However, the design challenges these agreements face are manifold. They require careful coordination between EU member states, the EU institutions, and selected partner countries.
In our research, we identify imbalances of EU external action, review the existing evidence and/or the actual lack of it regarding the impact and efficiency of EU migration policies, and propose viable alternatives to improve them. Within our current research agenda, we prioritize three questions on European partnership agreements with third countries:
- How do EU agreements with third countries fit into the wider global framework of refugee protection?
- How can temporary work permit schemes be coordinated on the EU level to utilize the full potential of migration from third countries to the EU?
- Can such improved legal pathways serve as a tool to substitute irregular migration, for example by incentivizing third countries to honor readmission agreements?