The Legal Feasibility of the EU’s External Action on Legal Migration: The Internal and the External Intertwined

In: European Journal of Migration and Law
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  • 1 Faculty of Law (ICADE), Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

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EU political discourse insists on the need to integrate the facilitation of legal migration within the cooperation with third countries. However, Member States’ reticence makes this element of the “Global Approach to Migration and Mobility” to be the least developed in practice. This article explores whether it is legally possible for the EU to develop an external action on legal migration and integration. For that purpose, the existence and nature of EU external competences on these fields will be examined. After identifying certain difficulties for the EU in exercising those external competences, possible alternatives for surmounting them will be suggested, such as exploiting the instrument of association, and strengthening coordination between the EU’s and Member States’ external action making the most of mobility partnerships.

  • 14)

    See S. Peers (2011), EU Justice and Home Affairs Law, 3rd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 393–394.

  • 22)

    See Peers (2011), op. cit., pp. 395–396.

  • 25)

    COM (2011) 292, p. 8; COM (2011) 743, p. 5 and 11; and Council, ‘Conclusions on the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility’, Council doc. No. 9417/12, 3 May 2012, point 12.

  • 37)

    See P. De Bruycker (2007), ‘Legislative harmonization in European Immigration Policy’, in: R. Cholewinski, R. Perruchoud and E. MacDonald (eds), International Migration Law: Developing Paradigms and Key Challenges, The Hague: TMC Asser Press, pp. 329–347.

  • 41)

    According to K. Hailbronner (ed.) (2010), EU Immigration and Asylum Law. Commentary on EU Regulations and Directives, Baden-Baden: Nomos, p. 26, “the concept of more favourable treatment may easily lead to an incompatibility with the achievement of the purpose to avoid benefit-driven immigration”.

  • 46)

    Eeckhout (2011), op. cit., p. 81. See also Neframi (2007), op. cit., pp. 88 and 92, and M. Cremona (2006), ‘External relations of the EU and the Member States: competence, mixed agreements, international responsibility and effects of international law’, EUI Working Paper LAW 22, p. 3.

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  • 53)

    See, for instance, N. Coleman (2009), European Readmission Policy. Third Country Interests and Refugee Rights, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, p. 75 et seq.

  • 61)

    See S. Iglesias (2012), ‘¿Hay lugar para la acción exterior de la Unión Europea en materia de inmigración legal? Acuerdos internacionales, asociaciones de movilidad e intereses estatales’, in: J. Martín y Pérez de Nanclares (coord.), La dimensión exterior del espacio de libertad, seguridad y justicia de la Unión Europea, Madrid: Iustel, pp. 173–193, at pp. 184 and 192.

  • 76)

    See Y. Pascouau (2010), La politique migratoire de l’Union européenne. De Schengen à Lisbonne, Paris: L.G.D.J., p. 495.

  • 81)

    See COM (2007) 248, part III. The main question lies of course on determining whether the EU concept of circular migration is rather a disguised form of temporary migration. See A. Wiesbrock and H. Schneider (2009), ‘Circular migration and mobility partnership’, Briefing Paper, European Parliament, PE 410.680, available online at

  • 82)

    COM (2007) 248, p. 5.

  • 84)

    See I. Lirola Delgado (2008) “¿Por fin una política de inmigración de la Unión en el Tratado de Lisboa?”, in: J. Martín y Pérez de Nanclares (coord.), El Tratado de Lisboa. La salida de la crisis constitucional, Madrid: Iustel, pp. 539–550, at p. 544.

  • 86)

    In this sense, see Iglesias (2012), op. cit., p. 189. In its Conclusions on the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility of May 2012 (Council doc. No. 9417/12), the Council raises the possibility of “considering non-binding measures aimed at better organising legal migration in cooperation with third countries taking into account the priorities, needs and capacities of each Member State” (emphasis added).

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