Chapter 10 Trade-for-Refugee Employment: Nexing for Deterrence or Development in the EU-Jordan Compact?

In: EU External Migration Policies in an Era of Global Mobilities: Intersecting Policy Universes
Author: Marion Panizzon

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Preceding the 2015/16 refugee “crisis”, aid conditionality and visa relaxation topped the list of leverages at the EUs disposal to enlist third-country cooperation in the fight against irregular migration. To correct some shortcomings of its resettlement policy, in particular the low intakes, the EU in the Jordan Compact experiments with keeping refugees employed abroad instead. In what is known as the EU-Jordan Compact, rules of origin under the wto Generalized System of Preferences (gsp) are relaxed on goods produced with refugee labor to compensate Jordan for issuing work permits to keep Syrian refugees close to home. This chapter discusses the Jordan Compact as an example of a “multidimensional” migration policy which interconnects three policy frames—EU trade-for-all strategy, the European Agenda on Migration’s Partnership Priorities and revised Neighbourhood Policy, but fails to qualify for multi-level governance (mlg) due to incoherence with wto and EU law. Drawing on a sub-set of regime theory, issue-linkage, we argue that the Compact, “new” approach of turning “crisis into a development opportunity”, is instead about experimenting with trade conditionality as a way to change the quality of the EU enp level-playing-field, the mobility paradigm of the EU gamm and the market-based preferentialism of the EU/wto Everything-but-Arms scheme into what becomes a one-time exception. Hailed for its humanitarian livelihood programming’, the implementation of the Compact in practice transforms a “development opportunity” into another deterrence strategy—not ex post, through readmission agreements, but ex ante, through work permits.

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