The EU’s Approach to Circular Migration in the Context of the Eastern Partnership Neighbourhood

in EU External Migration Policies in an Era of Global Mobilities: Intersecting Policy Universes
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The concept of circular migration keeps appearing in the context of the EU labour migration policy through legal instruments such as the Seasonal Workers Directive and the proposal for a recast of the Blue Card Directive, as well as it has been featured in the latest Mobility partnership with Belarus from October 2016. These examples suggest that the EU still has some interest in promoting circular migration as a policy instrument. The question is what does this interest mean in terms of the rights of migrant workers? Most of the literature so far focuses on conceptualising circular migration or analysing circular migration patterns rather than looking into implementation dynamics as part of the EU migration policy and its external dimension. This chapter aims at filling namely this gap by assessing the circularity of EU labour migration policies with regards to the Eastern Partnership neighbourhood and addressing the question of whether they provide rights-based outcomes for migrant workers. This is done through the prism of a framework of benchmarks based on international universal and regional human rights standards as well as policy measures that foster circularity focusing on entry and re-entry conditions, work authorisation, residence, social security coordination and entry and residence conditions for family members. This chapter is based on legal empirical research and combines legal and policy analysis with qualitative methods.

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