EU External Cooperation on Migration: In Search of the Treaty Principles

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. The EU Treaty as guidance for rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. – II.1. Constitutionalisation of the EU values. – II.2. Guidance for the Member States. – II.3. Guidance for the EU. – II.4. Guidance for the external dimension of EU action. – III. External dimension of EU asylum and migration policy. – III.1. Democracy and institutional balance. – III.2. Fundamental rights. – III.3. Conditionality and Treaty concerns. – III.4. Principles of equality and sincere cooperation. – IV. Lessons learnt from the EU rule of law crisis?

Abstract: This Article analyses to what extent the EU values and principles are guiding the external dimension of EU migration policies, especially the principle of democracy and fundamental rights. To illustrate this, it elaborates on the consequences of the informalization of this cooperation, and of the lack of safeguards for fundamental rights compliance. In the second part, the Article analyses the consequences of the increasing tendency to apply conditionality in the external migration cooperation, illustrated with three recent examples (Union Visa Code, post-Cotonou Agreement and trade tariff preferences). While referencing to political science research from the perspective of third countries, the Article concludes that the conditionality approach also risks undermining the principles of equality and sincere cooperation, which eventually impede the effectiveness of the external dimension on migration policies. By drawing lessons from the internal rule of law mechanisms, the EU could bring the external cooperation on migration more in line with its own values and principles enshrined in the Treaties. By doing so, it would offer the necessary safeguards for more coherence in the EU’s policies.

Keywords: external dimension – rule of law – conditionality – institutional balance – fundamental rights – equal partnerships.

European Papers, Vol. 8, 2023, No 2, pp. 905-929
ISSN 2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/694

* Professor of Citizenship and Migration law, Radboud University, and member of the European Parliament,


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