The External Dimension of Illegal Immigration

EU Policy and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership

Seminar Paper, 2008

16 Pages, Grade: 1,3



1. Introduction

2. Illegal Immigration Policy in the EU – connecting the internal and the external
2.1 Cooperation with third countries
2.2 Strengthening the external borders
2.3 The fight against human trafficking
2.4 Tackling illegal employment
2.5 Return Policy
2.6 Improved information exchange

3. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: two parties one thread?

4. Problems and criticism of the EU policy towards illegal migration

5. Conclusion


1. Introduction

On the 13th of March 2008 the EU-Council in Brussels decided the formation of a Mediterranean Union, which shall deepen the relations to the south and east Mediterranean states.[1] This Union shall intensify the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership launched in 1995 in Barcelona. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership includes political and security dialogues, the gradual establishment of a free trade area and cultural relations under the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) of the EU.[2] The bilateral and multilateral agreements are mentioning as well topics such as migration and asylum. These subjects are today more than ever important for EU member states. The EU is for many migrants the possibility to escape the bad living conditions in their home countries, which are to a huge degree countries of the south and east Mediterranean. Due to this problem, EU member states decided to manage legal and illegal immigration as well as the flow of refugees on the multilateral level of the EU.

Since the Treaty of Amsterdam this area is located in the first pillar of the EU and not longer in the intergovernmental third pillar.[3] As it can be seen in the bilateral and multilateral agreements of the EU with non-EU members there is definitively an EU foreign policy dimension of migration and asylum.[4] Since migration is evidentially a timeless topic and the creation of a Mediterranean Union was decided currently, this paper will analyze the external dimension of illegal immigration in the relations with the Mediterranean partner countries. Which approach is the EU following regarding illegal immigration in general? How far are the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership states included in the management of illegal immigration? Which strategies include the agreements with these countries? Where might be problems of the EU-management of illegal immigration in the cooperation with the countries of the Mediterranean? These shall be the key-questions the paper will answer.

The first part of the paper will state what the EU-policy contains regarding illegal immigration in detail and which parts of the EU foreign policy are affected by illegal immigration issues. Thereafter will be analyzed, which links exist between issues of illegal immigration and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Thereafter a critical glance shall be thrown at the problems, which the EU migration policy contains. The concluding chapter will answer the posed questions from above and will try to give an outlook about how efficient the management of illegal immigration in partnership with Mediterranean countries will be.

This paper is based mainly on the internet presence of the EuroMed Info Centre and the European Commission with its communication of the commission about migration. Furthermore, it has been used the literature of Hill and Smith (2005) and Smith (2003). Much important information is taken from Lavenex (2002), the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (BpB), Boin (2007) and Guiraudon (2007). Please see the reference list at the end for further information.

2. Illegal Immigration Policy in the EU – connecting the internal and the external

With the words of Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy: “Europe needs migration.”[5] According to her speech on the Conference on Reinforcing the Area of Freedom, Security, Prosperity and Justice of the EU and its Neighbouring Countries, the approach of the EU towards migration shall not be anylonger to build a “fortress Europe” that keeps migrants out. After Ferrero-Waldner the EU commission adopted a more comprehensive migration management, which links migration with the policy field of development, promotes migration in case of European demographic, social and economic problems, promotes the protection of migrants for exploitation and exclusion as well as it promotes the protection of asylum seekers and the respect of migrants’ rights.[6] This new approach of migration management includes as well a very old issue regarding migration – the fight against illegal immigration of third country nationals, which is a cornerstone of the EU common migration policy.[7] According to the commission, illegal immigrants are persons “who enter the territory of a Member State illegally”[8] with false documents or with help of criminals. Another group of illegal immigrants are those, who entered EU territory legally but stayed longer than allowed or changed reasons of stay as well as unsuccessful asylum seekers.

The fight against illegal immigration, most visible through border controls and readmission agreements,[9] is a traditional national responsibility as readmission agreements were signed on the intergovernmental level long before the whole migration issue was included in the third pillar of the EU with the Treaty of Maastricht.[10] With the Treaty of Amsterdam the “fields of asylum, immigration and safeguarding the rights of nationals of third countries”[11] became part of the first pillar, but not before a transition period of five years the “community method”[12] was introduced. The Treaty of Amsterdam asked for the creation of Europe as an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) “in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime”[13]. The aim of the Tampere-Programme (1999-2004) and the Hague Programme (2005-2010) was to realize this namely through a common policy of migration and asylum. The Treaty of Maastricht connected immigration already with crime and constituted that this might be a security threat for the EU member states.[14] That was affirmed by the Tampere and Hague Programmes, as it can be seen in the weight given to the fight against human trafficking. Furthermore, the control of migration and especially illegal immigration was demanded after the terroristic attacks on the US.

When in 2005 14 people died by trying to enter Ceuta and Melilla in Spain the pressure on the EU increased to develop efficient mechanisms to manage illegal immigration especially from Africa. The result was a communication on policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals (COM (2006) 402 final). Regarding this communication of the commission illegal immigration shall be addressed with a broad approach that includes the cooperation with third countries, strengthening of external borders, the fight against human trafficking, tackling illegal employment, return policy and improved information exchange.[15] Aim of this broad approach is to address the root causes of migration to EU territory.


[1] Melander (2008).

[2] European Commission, Euromed.

[3] Rees (2005): 206.

[4] See Regional Strategy Papers with Mediterranean and East-European countries.

[5] Ferrero-Waldner(2006): 2.

[6] Ferreo-Waldner, 5.

[7] COM (2006) 402 final.

[8] COM (2006) 402 final.

[9] Ferrero-Waldner,4.

[10] See readmission agreements of Italy and France. Svantesson (2007): 89.

[11] Title IV, Art. 61.b TEC.

[12] The community method contains the following: the commission owns the sole right of initiative, the council votes with a qualified majority the European Parliament has an active role in co-legislating with the council and the Court of Justice ensures the uniformity of Community law; European Commission, Glossary.

[13] AFSJ European Commission, Strengthening the European Union as an area of freedom, security and justice.

[14] Rees (2005 ): 207.

[15] COM (2006) 402 final.

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The External Dimension of Illegal Immigration
EU Policy and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership
Växjö University
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ISBN (Book)
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External, Dimension, Illegal, Immigration, Policy, Euro-Mediterranean, Partnership
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Lena Schnaible (Author), 2008, The External Dimension of Illegal Immigration, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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