30 October 2015

In October 2015, a study commissioned by the European Parliament highlights persistent weaknesses and imbalances of EU cooperation with third countries on migration and asylum.

Most programmes, notably under the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, focus on irregular migration, including measures on border control, return and readmission of migrants not eligible for international protection. Contrastingly, few activities aim at strengthening refugees’ protection in countries of origin and transit, at reinforcing the link between migration and development or addressing the absence of legal migration opportunities.

Existing programmes, such as the Regional Development Protection Programmes, offer limited resettlement opportunities, are too broad in their scope, or lack coordination and local ownership. Moreover, many activities aim at improving institutional capacities, from which refugees and migrants may not receive concrete benefits. Therefore, policy monitoring and evaluation should not only focus on outcomes, but also on the effective impact on the people concerned.

The study further maintains that EU external and internal funding, invested in migration and asylum projects, are fragmented and sometimes pursue different objectives. Thus, they often result in dispersion of funds or lack of coherence and, consequently, of visibility.

The implementation of EU cooperation programmes is further undermined by the lack of competent staff to plan, implement and monitor projects.  Member States prefer developing external actions through bilateral agreements, rather than undertaking collective engagements. At both the EU and national level, the study recommends policy makers to undertake legally binding agreements, instead of political commitments that frustrate monitoring of compliance regarding the rights and safeguards of refugees and migrants, including social rights, admission and integration.

Finally, the study concludes that given the insufficient measures concerning the external dimension of migration and asylum, the European Agenda on Migration represents a missed opportunity, considering the current refugee crisis.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 October 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.