The EU's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility - European Union Committee Contents

Chapter 7: the future of the global approach to migration and mobility

A useful framework

127.  Most of our witnesses were positive about the adoption of a global approach by the EU in principle. Professor Keith stressed that "the necessity of having a framework for co-ordination is almost self-evident"[171] while Peter Sutherland believed that it was fundamentally important for states to cooperate on migration policy rather than developing their own policies in isolation as "no state is or can be an island". In the EU context, he believed that the Commission could act as a catalyst for a more constructive approach.[172]

128.  Ralph Genetzke from the ICMPD stated that the GAMM provided a coherent framework.[173] Peter Sutherland regarded it as "the most outward-looking and co-operation-oriented approach to migration that exists in the world today" and while it did not address every migration challenge and opportunity its basic premise was fundamentally correct.[174] Charles Clarke also considered the GAMM to be useful but considered that it did "not sufficiently prioritise and strategise".[175] Hugo Brady praised the GAMM as a concept but considered that it suffered from a "poverty of ambition",[176] stating that it had achieved few concrete results and was a "journey rather than a destination".[177]

129.  Other witnesses were less positive about the GAMM. While Sir Andrew Green considered it useful for the GAMM to provide a "broad framework" he criticised its assumption "that migration is a good thing, more or less without any hesitation" and that it barely mentioned the potential downsides of migration.[178] Christopher Chope told us he found the document "impenetrable" and that it was "filled with jargon and wishful thinking, and seems to be a million miles away from what is actually happening on the ground".[179] Open Europe referred to it as a "confused" document and remarked that the EU's support for third country law enforcement agencies and stronger borders sometimes undermined its commitment to other principles, such as human rights.[180]

130.  The Minister for Immigration told us that the GAMM was a helpful "framework" for looking at a number of issues and considered its focus on practical cooperation with other Member States and third countries to be its most useful element. He also stressed the continuing role of bilateral accords between the United Kingdom and third countries and did not believe that the EU should assume a more significant role in formulating migration policy on behalf of the Member States.[181] The Government considered that the GAMM needed to adopt a more strategic approach, including a more systematic, evidence based approach to geographical priorities, particularly countries that presented the greatest risk such as Turkey.[182]

Mixed competences and effective implementation

131.  Professor Geddes thought that it was difficult for the EU to speak with one voice on migration because it was an area of mixed competences between the EU and the Member States.[183] In this respect, he considered that the GAMM had been most successful in areas which accorded more with the interests of the Member States.[184] Professor Keith stated that any overarching EU framework and policy design had to recognise the major differences between the welfare systems, labour markets and economic cycles of each Member State and seek to accommodate them in any future approach. He also emphasised the importance of subsidiarity in EU migration frameworks in order to take account of these differences.[185] However, Christopher Chope expressed doubts about the feasibility of developing a global approach when each Member State had its own migration policies.[186] Hugo Brady remarked that as it was not possible to achieve a single approach across all 27 Member States, the focus should instead be on cooperation on a regional basis.[187] Professor Skeldon supported this and stated that, as migration moved through particular corridors, adopting regional approaches would make more sense than an EU-wide one.[188]

132.  A recurring theme in the evidence we received was the need for the EU to offer non-EU countries more incentives in return for better controlling migration from their countries to the EU. Stefano Manservisi admitted that the EU needed to present a more balanced package of opportunity, telling us "we have learnt the lesson that in order to have a meaningful dialogue, we cannot just discuss things in general terms. We need also to put on the table a certain number of concrete actions, which could be projects to finance".[189] However, Open Europe commented that it was difficult for the Commission to implement the GAMM in a tangible manner because the relevant tools, including how many migrants were allowed in, was still a Member State competence; a situation which was unlikely to change. Therefore it was an "exercise that is almost doomed to fail". In the meantime, to become more effective the GAMM needed more deals, or "carrots", to put on the table, as well as prioritising a couple of key objectives and encouraging cooperation on a voluntary basis.[190] Professor Boswell was of a similar view, telling us that the "EU has only limited leverage to provide some of the incentives that it is talking about, such as increased mobility or access to labour markets".[191] Tobias Billström's view was that the EU's real role was to agree and enforce Directives and Regulations rather than acting as a "referee" between the Member States. In this vein, the Minister for Immigration saw EU activity in this area as an "adjunct" to national activities which should neither undermine nor eclipse this balance of competences over time.[192]

133.  We agree that the GAMM is a useful framework for the EU to approach the external dimension of migration. We also welcome the extension of its scope to cover mobility.

134.  However, we believe that the current approach in the GAMM is too diffuse and that in reforming it the EU should adopt a more focused approach, concentrating on the EU's geographical and strategic priorities, as well as focusing on a smaller number of key objectives and instruments, which have a sound evidence base.

135.  We believe that Turkey should become one of the GAMM's main geographical priorities, in tackling irregular migration, alongside more general engagement in tackling terrorism, transnational organised crime and promoting judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters.

136.  The EU does have a significant role to play in migration policy, but if the GAMM is to be effective it must accommodate rather than disregard Member States' different approaches in this area. We believe that facilitating voluntary cooperation between Member States with an interest in particular projects will yield the most results.

Funding, evaluation and monitoring

137.  The GAMM states its successful implementation will depend upon adequate funding. A monitoring and evaluation report will be adopted every second year, starting in June 2013, based on information provided by Member States, EU Delegations, EU agencies and partner countries. The report will assess progress made on the four pillars of the GAMM, including progress with the various dialogues, Mobility Partnerships and CAMMs.[193]

138.  Charles Clarke considered that the EU currently spent too little on migration and mobility and that they should raise the overall level of resources allocated to this area, as should every Member State.[194] Professor Geddes remarked on the lack of evaluation in the GAMM.[195] Hugo Brady also considered that the various EU funding instruments should be evaluated.[196]

139.  We consider that despite its stated intention the current iteration of the GAMM has not evaluated effectively the EU's progress to date in achieving its objectives. Therefore, we believe that a full and detailed evaluation of the GAMM's different pillars and the funding instruments that support their objectives should form a core part of the forthcoming report in 2013, in order to ensure the GAMM's future relevance and efficacy.

Mobility Partnerships

140.  The GAMM confirms that dialogues on migration, mobility and security have been launched with Tunisia and Morocco, with similar initiatives planned for Egypt and Libya. It is hoped that more formal Mobility Partnerships will be established with these countries in due course. It also states that Mobility Partnerships should be upgraded and promoted as the principle framework for cooperation on migration and mobility between the EU and third countries.[197] Further information about Mobility Partnerships is contained in Box 6.


Mobility Partnerships

The aim of Mobility Partnerships between the EU and third countries is to facilitate better management of migration flows. These voluntary partnerships will be tailored to the requirements of the third country concerned, depending on its relations with the EU and the level of its commitment towards tackling irregular migration that it is prepared to take on. The commitments that third countries could expect to take on include:

Initiatives to discourage irregular migration through targeted information campaigns;

Efforts to improve border control including through operational cooperation with Member States and/or Frontex;

Efforts to improve the security of travel documents against fraud or forgery;

Commitments to promote employment and decent work; and

Agreeing to readmit their own and third country nationals through the conclusion of Readmission Agreements and facilitate the reintegration of returnees.

In return, third countries can expect to benefit from some of the following forms of assistance:

Financial and technical assistance in developing their capacity to manage legal migration flows;

Assistance in combating irregular migration;

Conclusion of visa facilitation agreements (now usually negotiated simultaneously with Readmission Agreements);

Improved opportunities for legal migration, including consolidated offers by several Member States to facilitate access to their labour markets;

Measures to reduce brain drain and to encourage circular or return migration;

Promoting legal migration and strengthening the positive contribution of migration to development; and

Assistance to facilitate the return and reintegration of migrants.

An alternative framework, a step below a Mobility Partnership, is the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM), which could be upgraded to a Mobility Partnership at a later stage. Both are established by a joint political declaration between the EU and interested Member States and the third country concerned. Both are also based on mutual commitments that are non-binding.

Within this framework, dedicated Migration and Mobility Resource Centres can be established in the partner countries to facilitate pre-departure measures focusing on skills matching, skills upgrading and proficiency in EU languages.

The first Mobility Partnership was established with Moldova in 2008. Since then another three Mobility Partnerships have been established with Cape Verde (2008), Georgia (2009) and Armenia (2011).

141.  Confronted by the Arab Awakening, Stefano Manservisi told us that the Commission suggested to the European Council that "instead of having a migration policy inspired by the closing of doors, it would be better to have a migration and foreign policy inspired by the opening of doors—with conditions".[198] As a result, the European Council agreed in June 2011 to pursue Mobility Partnerships with the countries of the Arab Awakening. The Commission identified Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and, where possible, Libya. He remarked that so far the dialogue with Egypt had been extremely timid and the necessary conditions had not yet been reached in Libya due to continuing instability there. Subsequent Conclusions adopted by the European Council also added Jordan to the list of target countries in the region and exploratory talks began last December. Tentatively the Commission had also started discussing the possibility of establishing a Mobility Partnership or CAMM with countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, as well as Bangladesh and the Philippines, both of which had large communities living in the EU.[199] Discussions with India on establishing a CAMM were at a more advanced stage and included discussions about Indian migration policy and India's contribution of specialists in IT, and other sectors, to the international labour market.[200]

142.  Charles Clarke considered that Mobility Partnerships could be valuable but required a lot of effort and bureaucracy for not much in the way of results and the numbers of people involved. He suggested that more substantive arrangements should be put in place in order that they can work properly.[201] Hugo Brady considered Mobility Partnerships to be one of the more concrete GAMM initiatives, and suggested that Turkey, as a candidate country, should be a priority in this regard, as should Pakistan, rather than small countries like Moldova. However, he stated that expectations about what could be achieved with less advanced countries should be tempered and it was also important to realise that not all third countries were desperate to conclude agreements with the EU about migration.[202] Claude Moraes MEP and Baroness Ludford MEP were less convinced about the merits of Mobility Partnerships.[203]

143.  The Minister for Immigration was positive about Mobility Partnerships because of their non-binding nature.[204] The Government's written evidence mentioned that it had been involved in drafting the text for the Mobility Partnership with Tunisia and was closely involved with the negotiations on the proposed CAMM with Ghana.[205]

144.  We note that none of the existing Mobility Partnerships are with major sending countries. We recommend that Turkey (as a candidate country) and Pakistan, as major corridors for irregular migration into the EU, should be priorities for future Mobility Partnerships.

145.  However, it is important to be realistic about what can be achieved between the EU and third countries regarding migration and mobility. To this end we support the development of looser, more informal, forms of cooperation with other important third countries before moving on to more formal agreements such as Mobility Partnerships.

146.  Hugo Brady remarked that the existing Mobility Partnerships had not yet been evaluated.[206] However, Stefano Manservisi told us that the Commission was in the process of finalising an evaluation of the Moldova Mobility Partnership,[207] and we were grateful that this was subsequently made available to us. We considered it in great detail.[208]

147.  The evaluation report's assertion that the Mobility Partnership has been "a clear success" does not, in our view, appear to be supported by the reports own analysis of various shortcomings. It notes that "Little can be inferred ... about how much the Mobility Partnership benefits the target beneficiaries", such as migrants, diaspora organisations and refugee groups, because there was almost no consultative structure in place to gauge their views. It further notes that there was a lack of migration information available about crucial themes in the Mobility Partnership. The report makes it clear that quantitative evaluations should have been conducted from the very beginning of the Mobility Partnership.

148.  We urge the Government to press the Commission to accept the need for a thorough evaluation of the existing Mobility Partnerships. We welcome the recent evaluation of the Moldovan Mobility Partnership as a positive step in this regard but consider that considerable progress is still required in this area. Due to their bespoke nature there cannot be a "one-size-fits-all" approach to Mobility Partnerships and separate evaluations of each are therefore required.

149.  Looking ahead we also believe that any future Mobility Partnerships should contain clear provision for integrated monitoring or evaluation mechanisms to assess quantitative benchmarks, including the views of the target beneficiaries. These mechanisms should play a prominent role from the very beginning of the process.

The Global Forum on Migration and Development

150.  The GAMM also wants to allow the EU to speak with one voice on migration and mobility matters at global level, in particular in the GFMD, while starting to build broad alliances towards the UN High-Level Dialogue in 2013 and beyond.[209] Further information about the GFMD is provided in Box 7.


Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)

The United Nations Member States established the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in 2007 to address interconnections between migration and development in practical and action-oriented ways. It is an informal, non-binding, voluntary and government-led process, which acknowledges the limits of a strictly national approach to migration questions and implications at a global level in an intergovernmental framework. Representatives of civil society have been involved in the work of the GFMD from the outset.

The objectives of the GFMD are:

To provide a venue for policy-makers and high-level policy practitioners to informally discuss relevant policies and practical challenges and opportunities of the migration-development nexus, and engage with other stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations, experts and migrant organisations to foster practical and action-oriented outcomes at national, bilateral and international level;

To exchange good practices and experiences, which can be duplicated or adapted in other circumstances, in order to maximise the development benefits of migration and migration flows;

To identify information, policy and institutional gaps necessary to foster synergies and greater policy coherence at national, regional and international levels between the migration and development policy areas;

To establish partnerships and cooperation between countries, and between countries and other stakeholders, such as international organisations, diaspora, migrants, academia, among others, on migration and development;

To structure the international priorities and agenda on migration and development.

160 countries now attend and conferences are held alternately in countries of destination and origin. The United Kingdom is a member of the Steering Committee, which progresses matters between the conferences, and helps to prepare and develop papers and proposals for the annual meetings, as part of a 'troika' with the GFMD and the general membership of the UN. While the GFMD brings together countries of origin, transit and destination, and often leads to the creation of bilateral connections and policies, it is not a decision-making body.

151.  Peter Sutherland told us that the GFMD member states seemed satisfied with how the GFMD was working so far.[210] He added that the United Kingdom and other member states have supported the GFMD financially, on a voluntary basis. The Commission has also been helpful in this process—financially and in terms of ideas—probably seeing it as something that naturally fits in with its GAMM.[211] However, a key element of the GFMD is that it is member state-led and directed and he told us that some member states did not support the Commission attending meetings as an observer. This is currently being debated.[212] Tobias Billström seemed cautious about the idea of the Commission having greater involvement in the GFMD but seemed to support it having observer status.[213] The Minister for Immigration emphasised member states' preeminent role in the GFMD and was uncomfortable with the idea that the EU should attend and adopt a formal or common position on particular matters.[214]

152.  Stefano Manservisi told us that while it was the Commission's ambition for the EU to speak with one voice in such forums this was not yet a reality. He also acknowledged that there was resistance to the EU taking a single view or being represented in the GFMD and attributed this to its state-led nature of the organisation and the mixed competence regarding migration matters between Member States and the EU. He expected that the strong opposition from the member states to Commission representation at the GFMD would reduce over time as mutual trust increased.[215]

153.  The most recent meeting of the GFMD took place in Mauritius on 21-22 November 2012 and we note that, apart from a keynote address by Peter Sutherland, another of our witnesses—Stefano Manservisi—also delivered a statement at the conference.[216]

154.  We believe that the Commission should be welcomed to future meetings of the GFMD as an observer so long as it is clearly recognised within the EU that this will not indicate any transfer of responsibilities from the Member States.


155.  According to the GAMM, the Commission is also conducting a number of joint initiatives with UN agencies, the IOM and the ICMPD to address a wide range of international migration issues.[217] Stefano Manservisi emphasised that the EU was aiming to become a stronger actor on the international stage. He indicated that good progress was being made on achieving a unified EU position ahead of the UN's High-level Dialogue in 2013, particularly between the Commission and EEAS, and that they were also liaising with Peter Sutherland and the IOM. He also referred to the Commission's strategic partnership with the IOM on returns, particularly the Pakistan Readmission Agreement, which was not considered to be working well despite the high number of irregular migrants from this country living in Europe.[218] Christopher Chope spoke positively about the role of the IOM and the UNHCR but was less enthusiastic about relations between the EU and the Council of Europe, stating that "It is not just an issue of cooperation; it is a question of whether the EU is willing to recognise the expertise, where it already exists, without seeking always to try to duplicate it".[219]

156.  Hugo Brady was less impressed by developments at the international level, telling us that at a "time when countries worldwide have an almost desperate need for a global infrastructure for migration to manage migratory flows, that desperate need is measured or equalled by the lack of serious political will to agree on concrete initiatives that could make something like that happen".[220]

157.  We also considered international cooperation in our report on the EU Drugs Strategy and concluded that this "should involve and encourage direct cooperation between cities, local authorities and organisations across national boundaries".[221] We believe that the same approach would have merit regarding migration.

158.  Increased coordination and reduced duplication between the various international organisations involved in migration policy is necessary.

159.  We also consider that co-operation and the sharing of expertise between cities and regions in different parts of the EU could be every bit as important as inter-governmental and international co-operation on migration.

171   Q 179 Back

172   Q 14 Back

173   Q 346 Back

174   Q 6 Back

175   Q 149 Back

176   Q 175 Back

177   Q 176 Back

178   Q 207 Back

179   Q 207. As did the Minister for Immigration-see Q 235. Back

180   Q 107 Back

181   Q 235 Back

182   UK Government Back

183   Q 221 Back

184   Q 222 Back

185   Q 179, Q 183, Q 201 Back

186   Q 207 Back

187   Q 192 Back

188   Q 222 Back

189   Q 303 Back

190   QQ 102-105, Q 115, Q 118 Back

191   Q 219 Back

192   Q 236 Back

193   GAMM, pp. 20-21 Back

194   Q 155 Back

195   Q 222 Back

196   Q 195 Back

197   GAMM, pp. 14-15 Back

198   See Commission Communication, A dialogue for migration, mobility and security with the Southern Mediterranean countries, COM (2011) 292, 24.5.2011 Back

199   Q 308 Back

200   Q 302 Back

201   Q 150 Back

202   Q 180 Back

203   QQ 334-335 Back

204   QQ 254-257 Back

205   UK Government Back

206   Q 176 Back

207   QQ 305-306 Back

208   European Commission, The European Union-Republic of Moldova Mobility Partnership 2008-2011: Evaluation Report, November 2012 Back

209   GAMM, p. 9. The General Assembly will hold a High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development during its sixty-eighth session in 2013. This follows on from the first High-level Dialogue, which took place on 14 to 15 September 2006. Further information is available here: 

210   Q 1 Back

211   Q 24 Back

212   Q 1 Back

213   QQ 38-39 Back

214   QQ 238-242 Back

215   Q 312, Q 314 Back

216   For more information about the GFMD Mauritius meeting, including papers and statements, see:  

217   GAMM, p. 10 Back

218   Q 302, QQ 315-318 Back

219   Q 209 Back

220   Q175 Back

221   EU Committee, The EU Drugs Strategy (26th Report of Session 2010-12, HL Paper 270) Back

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