Migration and Asylum in External Relations

Migration is a global and complex phenomenon that requires an overall vision and a comprehensive, coherent and long-term approach that addresses the root causes of migration. Migration is at the heart of the political debate in the EU and, for a few years now, is one of the strategic priorities of the external relations of the Union. Carefully managed, it can be a positive factor for growth and success of both the Union and the countries concerned.

In recent years important steps have been taken towards a more consolidated, coherent external migration policy and action. The Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) is, since 2005, the overarching framework for the EU external migration and asylum policy, as revised in 2012 and reaffirmed through the recently adopted Council Conclusions on the implementation of GAMM in April 2014. The GAMM has a comprehensive focus, encompassing priorities on mobility and legal migration, irregular migration, migration and development and international protection. The main tools are legally binding instruments, such as Readmission and Visa Facilitation Agreements, as well as political tools, such as Mobility Partnerships (MPs) and Common Agendas for Migration and Mobility (CAMM). In this vein, migration issues are part of overall political and economic relations with a series of key partners and countries of origin and transit, whereas migration is also a major priority in a series of regional initiatives, such as the EU-Africa Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment, the Rabat process, the Prague process, the Eastern Partnership, the "Silk Routes", the EU-ACP and the EU-CELAC cooperation; whereas recently concrete steps have been taken for the launch of a political dialogue on migration with the countries of the Eastern Africa, the so-called Khartoum process, to be launched on 27 November 2014 in a Ministerial Meeting at Rome. Migration policy aspects are also a clear priority in EU's ENP policy, notably in the context of substantially rising migration flows into the EU via the Mediterranean Sea during 2014. In that regard, substantive progress was achieved in the framework of the work of the Task Force Mediterranean, through increased dialogue and cooperation with ENP South countries, in particular the establishment of new Mobility Partnerships with Morocco (June 2013), Tunisia (March 2014) and Jordan (to be signed in October 2014).

The European Council of June 2014 adopted in its Conclusions the Strategic Guidelines for legislative and operational planning for the coming years within the area of freedom, security and justice. These Strategic Guidelines set out the strategic objectives in Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) matters for the period starting in 2014. The 2014 Strategic Guidelines are calling for improving the link between the EU's internal and external policies which has to be reflected in better cooperation among the institutions and bodies; refer to the need for a balanced approach taking into account the "positive" aspects and opportunities that migration offers and stress the fact that migration policies need to become a much stronger integral part of the Union's external and development policies through intensifying cooperation with countries of origin and transit. Finally, both the April 2014 Council Conclusions on GAMM as well as the June 2014 Guidelines put emphasis on the need to adopt a long-term approach while they also stress the importance of addressing the root causes of the migration phenomenon. The lack of political, social or economic stability, poverty, human rights abuses, international crises and conflicts and climate change are expressly stated as examples of root causes.