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In the context of rising populist and nationalist politics amongst some EU states and throughout the world, the EU prides itself on the principle of free movement, and its adherence to a detailed set of human rights norms. However, this dichotomy obscures a more complex reality. The problem is that ‘free movement’ is conceived of, in EU terms, as solely relating to internal movement. When it comes to its external relations, the EU arguably comes to more closely resemble the politics of the critics of ‘free movement’ in the UK and elsewhere. The policy, colloquially known as ‘Fortress Europe’ has been around for some time, and the EU’s response to the refugees attempting to enter via the Mediterranean in recent years has not been defined by a humanitarian approach. Another way in which the EU’s prejudices around non-European migration can be observed is through its external relations with other states. We explore the case of EU-Turkey relations, and by doing so reveal the ways in which the EU has attempted to alter the policies of its partner, and putative member state, in ways that place burdens on migrants rather than relieving them. Turkey as the EU’s ‘candidate’ country has adopted these policies without much debate about alternatives to detention or ethics of detaining people as long as certain standards were met. This candidate-EU relationship, although strained a few years back, has finally led to the readmission agreement in 2015 where immigration detention became the norm.

In: European Journal of Migration and Law