This chapter examines the funding of the EU’s negotiations with third countries on migration policy in order to question the idea of financial incentives as the central bargaining chip in external relations. It argues that, although central to most accounts of negotiations on migration in general, and on readmission in particular, the image of funding as an incentive is misleading. Indeed, financial incentives are usually taken for granted, in the discourses of practitioners and analysts alike, who concentrate on the evaluation of their effectiveness. Financial incentives, although omnipresent, are rarely examined in detail: analyses typically mention some highly publicized funded projects before dismissing financial incentives as insufficient in favour of a focus on non-financial incentives.
This chapter proposes to examine financial incentives in more detail, based on the analysis negotiations on readmission, more specifically EU-Morocco negotiations, and on migration budgets in this context. It shows that the reality of financial incentives is in fact difficult to grasp. First, because the principle of using financial incentives is in itself contentious among Member States. Second, because identifying incentives in EU budgets is not always straightforward. Third, because for the actors in charge of negotiations find it difficult to obtain and mobilize finances as incentives. Finally, budgets use ambiguous and fluid categories, that are symptomatic of the difficulty to mobilize funding as an ‘incentive’, a bargaining chip in negotiations.