TodayWorld News

The EU as a Questionable Actor and a Realist Energy

EU migration coverage has develop into a extremely contested matter in worldwide and European politics, with completely different interpretations, perceptions, and narratives being current. This essay explores what sort of actor and energy the EU is concerning its migration coverage. It will likely be argued that on this respect the EU is internally divided, which questions its actorness, and a realist, self-interested energy. These qualities have develop into more and more extra pronounced with latest challenges, just like the excessive inflow of migrants in 2015. Simplified, the primary pursuits that the EU is defending could be the regulation of the variety of irregular migrants arriving and a concentrate on the entry of extremely expert employees on a short-term foundation. This contrasts the pursuits and wishes of the international locations of origin, usually African creating international locations. Recognising the potential migration holds, they want to improve the authorized pathways to the EU, by way of visa facilitation and labour migration schemes (Adam et al., 2020).

After explaining the institutional setup, this essay will firstly study the interior divergences inside the Union with regards to migration coverage. Firstly, tensions inside the institutional association exist as a result of conflicting pursuits on the supranational and intergovernmental ranges. With it being an space of shared competence and Member States holding on to essential capacities, the Union’s energy is weakened, notably in negotiations requiring issue-linkage. Reluctance to pool sovereignty, discrete attitudes in the direction of migration in home politics and competing narratives additional deepen the divide. Extra importantly, on this coverage subject, the EU fails to be the normative, liberal energy it’s usually described as, selling its personal pursuits as a substitute. This realist behaviour turns into obvious within the hole between the rhetoric on migration and the tough apply. Additional, improvement funds are misused for securitising issues, and support is made conditional on migration cooperation. The externalisation of migration coverage results in vital human rights implications. Therefore, how normative concerns on morality and common values are put apart in favour of self-interests will likely be explored.

Institutional Framework

Initially, the institutional preparations and framework of EU migration and asylum coverage shall be defined, making a basis to know its position as an actor and energy. Migration coverage is an space of shared competence between the EU and the Member States, which means that each can undertake legally binding acts. Inner migration coverage has been formed by the 1985 Schengen Settlement, which eliminated inner borders and created a typical exterior EU frontier, demanding shared administration (Faure et al., 2015). The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht and the 1999 Treaty of Amsterdam gave the EU competence over the matter, with the 2009 Lisbon Treaty refining the division of competencies (Neframi, 2011). An important step was the 1999 Tampere Presidency Conclusions, the place the aim of “establishing a Widespread European Asylum System, based mostly on the complete and inclusive software of the Geneva Conference” (European Council, 1999) was set. The 2005 World Method to Migration, revised in 2011 because the World Method to Migration and Mobility, units the framework for exterior cooperation on migration. Its 4 pillars include “authorized migration and mobility, irregular migration and trafficking in human beings, worldwide safety and asylum coverage, and maximising the event influence of migration and mobility” (European Fee, 2011). Beneath the World Method, two forms of agreements concerning migration governance between the EU and third international locations exist: Mobility Partnerships and a Widespread Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM).

The EU as an Internally Divided, Questionable Actor

Now, there are a selection of causes for perceiving the EU as a deeply divided actor on this subject. Firstly, the institutional setup causes stress. Within the case of migration coverage, the European Fee can undertake sure measures and negotiate agreements with third international locations. Nevertheless, the Council should agree and the Member States can determine themselves about signing the Mobility Partnerships or the variety of migrants to just accept, limiting the Fee’s energy. The 2 establishments’ coverage agendas don’t all the time align, because the Council favours a extra restrictive strategy than the Fee. As an intergovernmental establishment, the Council is influenced by the house affairs ministries, which in flip act on the customarily sceptical and unfavorable perceptions of migration within the respective home politics of the Member States (Hampshire, 2016). Member States could also be hesitant to pool sovereignty in a excessive politics space as salient as migration. Usually, the Member States could possibly be divided into holding both intergovernmentalist or integrationist attitudes. Thus, some view additional cooperation as undermining nationwide pursuits, whereas others recognise it as a significant enlargement of EU tasks (Friis & Juncos, 2019). These sentiments are heightened concerning the delicate coverage space of migration, because it has essential implications for nationwide sovereignty.

Division of Competences as a Complicating Issue

Moreover, worldwide negotiations on migration coverage are complicated and sometimes require subject linkage, which is problematic because of the Fee not essentially having full company over different coverage areas. Challenge-linkage, “the simultaneous dialogue of two or extra points for joint settlement” (Poast, 2013, p. 287) is required when pursuits don’t align, as is the case with the EU’s negotiations on migration with different international locations. Usually, the EU seeks to co-operate on the readmission of irregular migrants, usually together with even third-country nationals as a result of difficulties in figuring out a migrant’s citizenship, which is characterised by non-reciprocity, and therefore, uneven pursuits. Thus, one other incentive is critical to encourage negotiations and agreements (Jurje & Lavenex, 2014). As a result of nature of the division of competencies, the duty of offering vital mobility incentives lies with the Member States that may be reluctant to take action (Hampshire, 2016). This additional complicates negotiations.

Totally different Attitudes and Narratives concerning Migration

Moreover, diverging attitudes towards migration are current within the home politics of Member States. Relying on historic ties and geographic location, they expertise various ranges of migration, which, together with labour market buildings and demographics, influence their want for migration, and therefore, their insurance policies (Hampshire, 2016). The pursuits of notably Mediterranean international locations like Spain, Italy, and Greece, which have been extremely affected by migrants coming over the ocean route, diverge drastically from others’ views that don’t want to improve solidarity mechanisms. As an example, the Dublin Regulation, stating that the nation of the primary arrival is answerable for processing asylum claims, nonetheless has not been absolutely reformed, regardless of it placing a lot stress on Southern states. This creates the necessity for bilateral agreements between the Member States like Spain or Italy and African nations to deal with the inflow of migrants (Schöfberger, 2019). Probably the most drastic instance of diverging Member State attitudes could be seen within the first reactions to the unprecedented excessive variety of refugees and irregular migrants arriving in 2015. Responses ranged from Germany or Sweden accepting entry to borders being shut and fences being constructed inside the Schengen space, failing to discover a frequent strategy (Morsut & Kruke, 2018). These diverging attitudes stem from the competing narratives and rhetorics round migration. Frames and narratives assemble a view of actuality and provides issues a sure which means. Migration can then be perceived both as a possibility with nice potential or as a menace to the arrival nation and its nationwide safety. These conceptions will influence policymaking and whether or not borders are seen to be ‘liquid’ or ‘strong’; thus whether or not motion throughout borders is restricted or facilitated. Lately, notably because the 2015 disaster, migration has more and more been securitised and framed as a menace, linking it to terrorism and the hazard to migrant lives (Schöfberger, 2019).

Summed up, the EU shows nice inner divisions concerning migration coverage, ensuing within the lack of ability to talk with one united voice, which may result in the questioning of its actorness. Recognition, authority, autonomy, and cohesion have been named as essential parts of being an actor (Jupille & Caporaso, 1998) and won’t be current within the EU migration coverage. Cohesion is missing as a result of interior divergences, and the EU is just not given full authority and autonomy over migration insurance policies, with it being an space of shared competence. Due to this fact, third international locations won’t essentially recognise the EU as an actor in worldwide negotiations and like bilateral agreements with the person Member States. Therefore, whereas the EU’s actorness is usually typically questioned, doubts may be justified concerning migration coverage. That proposes the thought of the EU not even being an actor on this matter.

The EU as a Self-interested, Realist Energy

Additional, the EU is extra of a realist, self-interested energy with regards to migration coverage than the ‘Normative Energy Europe’ it likes to be portrayed: as a civilian actor selling common values and human rights (Manners, 2002). This criticism applies not solely to migration but additionally to different issues, making a sample. As an example, the EU claims to be a promoter of human rights, peace, and democracy, and due to this fact, has so-called human rights clauses in treaties. These, nonetheless, are utilized selectively and generally not in international locations during which the EU has pursuits. These realist pursuits embrace historic ties, business pursuits, e.g. concerning the availability of vitality, or safety considerations, as some nations are perceived as allies in combatting terrorism. Therefore, from a realist perspective, sanctions develop into a overseas coverage software and are utilized solely in case of aligned pursuits as a substitute of selling liberal norms whatever the potential private positive aspects and losses (Del Biondo, 2015). With a number of circumstances, corresponding to non-interference in Ethiopia or Rwanda, supporting that thesis, the EU has proven a poor compliance file as a normative actor. This rhetoric-reality hole is extra distinguished than for different actors because of the public dedication to norm promotion (Carbone & Keijzer, 2016).

This hole can be current concerning migration coverage. The rhetoric emphasises that every one insurance policies needs to be migrant-centred and concentrate on human rights and the significance of dialogue (European Fee, 2011). In its discourse with African companions, the EU claims to centre its consideration on managing migration and creating alternatives for mobility and authorized migration. In apply, the restriction of irregular migrations performs a much bigger position. Consequently, within the Mobility Partnerships with different international locations, the EU prioritises its personal pursuits. Its dedication to creating alternatives for authorized migration stays imprecise, whereas the calls for in the direction of the opposite nation concerning border administration and readmission are very particular and concrete (Zanker, 2019). The questionable practices concerning improvement and human rights in relation to migration, as examined within the following, are additionally indicative of the rhetoric-reality hole.

Problematic Linkage of Migration & Growth

Furthermore, the hyperlink between migration and improvement is far mentioned in each the literature and inside insurance policies and negotiations. On the one hand, migrants can contribute to the event of their nation of origin by way of remittance flows or ability transfers. Alternatively, the EU tends to understand underdevelopment as a trigger for migration, therefore encouraging improvement to stop migrants from getting into the EU (Zanker, 2019). It must be famous that this causal hyperlink between the 2 areas has been contested, as some students argue for a rise in migration with rising ranges of improvement (D’Humières, 2018). The creation of a nexus between improvement and migration could possibly be interpreted as making an attempt to enhance coverage coherence, assembly the targets of the Coverage Coherence for Growth (PCD). The PCD refers back to the alignment of improvement coverage with different areas that have an effect on creating international locations. Growth could possibly be promoted by way of migration insurance policies that revolve round supporting remittance flows, partaking the diaspora, and combating mind drain (Kejzer et al., 2016). As an alternative, students have critiqued EU improvement coverage for more and more being influenced by their overseas coverage and safety considerations, and due to this fact, turning it right into a software to foster its personal pursuits as a substitute of enhancing the dwelling situations of these most in want. This self-interested stance is confirmed within the 2016 ‘World Technique for the EU’s Overseas and Safety Coverage’, which discusses the idea of principled pragmatism and the significance of aligning insurance policies with strategic priorities. Consequently, the 2016 Migration Partnership Framework entails Widespread Safety and Defence Coverage missions (European Fee, 2016a), that are a central a part of the Union’s Widespread Overseas and Safety Coverage. Widening the scope of the event agenda below the guise of larger coherence permits for the inclusion of points like migration administration or border management. These practices deflect from standard improvement targets, which ought to concentrate on poverty discount, promotion of democracy and human rights, and sustainability. Due to this fact, a broadened improvement agenda must be examined critically, because it questions what the precise targets of improvement coverage needs to be (Orbie, 2020).

This may be noticed within the 2015 EU Belief Fund for Africa (EUTF), additionally known as Migration Belief Fund. Launched on the Valletta Summit for Migration, as a response to the massive inflow of migrants and asylum seekers in 2015, its targets are “larger financial and employment alternatives, strengthening resilience of communities, improved migration administration [and] improved governance and battle prevention” (European Fee, 2015). Addressing the foundation causes of irregular migration and displacement is the official narrative put ahead by the EU. Nonetheless, it primarily advances the EU’s pursuits of decreasing the variety of irregular migrants arriving in Europe. From an African perspective, it consists of a “European-imposed migration agenda that prioritises EU pursuits over African ones” (Castillejo, 2017, p. 1), with little alternative for African possession and company, because it lacks a proper co-management requirement. One other drawback is posed by the diversion of fund allocations away from the least-developed international locations in the direction of these vital for the EU’s migration agenda, notably since a lot of the finances for the EUTF stems from improvement devices that needs to be used based on the Official Growth Help standards (Castillejo, 2017). As an alternative, 26% of EUTF funding has been allotted to migration governance and fewer than 1.5% to common migration schemes (Raty & Shilhav, 2020).

Additional, the EU has began to make improvement support conditional on cooperation on migration administration, which is very problematic, because of the dependence of states on improvement help and EU capability. This was controversially additionally included within the 2000 Cotonou Settlement with the ACP states, the place Article 13 hyperlinks improvement support to the normalisation of migration flows (Arts, 2020). Utilizing the instance of the Cotonou Settlement shines a light-weight on the ability imbalances which are current within the negotiations between the EU and creating international locations: The settlement has been criticised because the EU profiting from the asymmetry by imposing its pursuits and utilizing coercion (Carbone, 2015). Whereas creating international locations have some leverage in migration pacts, the connection remains to be characterised by reliance as a substitute of equality and could possibly be understood as neocolonialist (Unusual & Oliveira Martins, 2019). Consequently, any negotiations on migration agreements should not undertaken on an equal, honest degree.

Moral Penalties and Ethical Duties of Externalisation

General, the EU’s engagement within the externalisation of migration coverage is an indicator of self-interested behaviour. Externalisation refers to controlling immigration to the EU exterior of its borders and involving exterior actors by way of worldwide agreements. Due to this fact, Mobility Partnerships or CAMMs are technique of externalising, since different states tackle the duty of readmitting migrants, growing their border controls, or establishing migration centres. The moral considerations concerning this apply are multifold. Primarily, the intention is to “forestall migrants, together with asylum seekers, from getting into the authorized jurisdictions or territories of vacation spot international locations or areas or making them legally inadmissible with out individually contemplating the deserves of their safety claims” (Frelick et al., 2016, p. 193). So, externalising migration permits the EU to scale back its tasks and authorized obligations to the detriment of the lives of migrants and asylum seekers. The externalisation additionally exposes the discrepancy between the EU’s rhetorical dedication to norm promotion and the realist pursuit of its personal pursuits. This hypocrisy turns into notably clear within the case of Turkey. Publicly, Turkey’s human rights abuses and infringement of democratic ideas are condemned (European Fee, 2021). Then once more, the EU used incentives, corresponding to visa liberalisation, the prospect of EU membership, and monetary support, to achieve an settlement within the 2016 EU-Turkey Assertion. This facilitates the return of all irregular migrants who arrived on the Greek islands from Turkey (European Fee, 2016b), permitting the EU to keep away from assuming duty. The human rights implications are extreme: Turkey doesn’t enable non-Europeans to qualify for refugee standing and solely Syrian nationals are eligible for short-term safety (Frelick et al., 2016), which leaves people in an especially weak place. The query of whether or not the EU is then answerable for human rights breaches exterior of its territory, that are associated to externalisation, poses a dilemma. Legally, the EU’s help in wrongful acts can solely be condemned if there was consciousness of the situations, which is difficult to show (Santos Vara & Pascual Matellán, 2021). Nonetheless, as a very normative and even moral energy Europe (Aggestam, 2008) wouldn’t function in a authorized gray zone and endanger human lives whereas defending its pursuits, reinforcing the thought of the EU as a realist energy. Comparably, NGOs and the UN Excessive Commissioner for Refugees have criticised provisions just like the problematic ‘protected third nation’ regulation, which permits the EU to disclaim asylum to those who have beforehand travelled by way of different nations deemed to be protected (Borchelt, 2002). At greatest, showcasing this “defensive exclusion greater than inclusive-cooperative safety or robust assist for human rights and democratic norms” (Smith & Youngs, 2018, p. 53) could be learn as very contingent liberalism, exposing the EU’s realist aspect.


In conclusion, with regards to migration coverage, the EU is internally divided and fails to talk with one united voice, which is why its actorness is disputed. A number of cleavages must be overcome to realize unity: the supranational, extra liberal Fee and the intergovernmental, extra restrictive Council want to come back collectively, whereas the hesitancy to pool sovereignty needs to be diminished. The Member States would should be prepared to see past their attitudes, that are influenced by various narratives on migration, to realize cooperation by way of compromises. In addition to, the EU’s self-interests outweigh normative concerns of morality and values, which turns into obvious in a number of facets. There’s a hole between the moral rhetoric and the restrictive practices concerning migration, the place offers with different states are used to advance European pursuits. Appearing as a realist energy, even improvement instruments are misused to align with the EU’s strategic pursuits as a substitute of fulfilling ethical commitments, as overseas support is redefined within the EU’s favour and made conditional on migration cooperation. By the externalisation of migration, referring to the involvement of different actors, the EU is not directly answerable for human rights breaches, and thus, not upholding its standing as an moral energy. Consequently, this essay has argued for the EU as being a questionable actor and a self-interested energy, with regards to migration coverage. 


Adam, I., Trauner, F., Jegen, L. and Roos, C. (2020) West African pursuits in (EU) migration coverage: Balancing home priorities with exterior incentives, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Research, 46(15), 3101-3118.

Aggestam, L. (2008) Introduction: Moral energy Europe?, Worldwide Affairs, 84(1), 1-11.

Arts, Ok. (2020) Growth coverage and European Union politics, in Oxford Analysis Encyclopedia of Politics, Oxford: Oxford College Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.1132  

Borchelt, G. (2002) The protected third nation apply within the European Union: A misguided strategy to asylum regulation and a violation of worldwide human rights requirements, Columbia Human Rights Regulation Evaluation, 33(2), 473-526.

Carbone, M. (2015) Growth and overseas support, in Ok.E. Jørgensen, A.Ok. Aarstad, E. Drieskens, Ok. Laatikainen, and B. Tonra (eds.) The Sage Handbook of European Overseas Coverage. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Carbone, M. and Keijzer, N. (2016) The European Union and coverage coherence for improvement: Reforms, outcomes, resistance, European Journal of Growth Analysis, 28(1), 30-43.  

Castillejo, C. (2017). The European Union Belief Fund for Africa: What implications for future EU improvement coverage? (No. 5/2017). Briefing Paper.

Del Biondo, Ok. (2015) Norms or pursuits? Explaining instrumental variation in EU democracy promotion in Africa, Journal of Widespread Market Research, 53(2), 237-254.

D’Humières, V. (2018) European Union/African cooperation: The externalisation of Europe’s migration insurance policies, European Points, 472, Fondation Robert Schuman.

European Fee (2011) Communication from the Fee to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Financial and Social Committee and the Committee of the Areas. The World Method to Migration and Mobility. COM (2011) 743. Brussels, 18 November.

European Fee (2015) EU Emergency Belief Fund for Africa. Our Mission. [accessed 25.11.21]

European Fee (2016a) Communication on establishing a brand new Partnership Framework with third international locations below the European Agenda on Migration. COM(2016) 385. Strasbourg, 7 June. 

European Fee (2016b) EU-Turkey Assertion. Press launch, March 18. Brussels: European Fee.

European Fee (2021) Key findings of the 2021 Report on Turkey. Press launch, October 19. Strasbourg: European Fee.

European Council (1999) Tampere European Council. 15-16 October 1999. Presidency conclusions.

Faure, R., Gavas, M., & Knoll, A. (2015) Challenges to a complete EU migration and asylum coverage. Abroad Growth Institute.

Friis, A. M.  and Juncos, A. E. (2019) The European Union’s overseas, safety, and defence insurance policies’, in M. Cini and N. Pérez-Solórzano Borragán (eds.), European Union Politics, 6th version, Oxford: Oxford College Press.

Frelick, B., Kysel, I. M., & Podkul, J. (2016) The influence of externalization of migration controls on the rights of asylum seekers and different migrants, Journal on Migration and Human Safety, 4(4), 190-220.

Hampshire, J.  (2016) Talking with one voice? The European Union’s international strategy to migration and mobility and the boundaries of worldwide migration cooperation, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Research, 42(4), 571-586.

Jupille, J., and Caporaso, J. A. (1998) States, company and guidelines: The European Union in international environmental politics, in Rhodes, C. (ed.) The European Union within the World Group, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, pp. 213-229.

Jurje, F. and Lavenex, F. (2014) Commerce agreements as venues for ´market energy Europe´? The case of immigration coverage, JCMS: Journal of Widespread Market Research, 52(2), 320-336.

Keijzer,  N., Héraud, J. and Frankenhaeuser, M. (2016) Principle and apply? A comparative evaluation of migration and improvement insurance policies in eleven European international locations and the European Fee, Worldwide Migration, 54(2), 69-81.

Manners, I. (2002) Normative energy Europe: A contradiction in phrases?, JCMS: Journal of Widespread Market Research, 40(2), 235-258.

Morsut, C., & Kruke, B. I. (2018) Disaster governance of the refugee and migrant inflow into Europe in 2015: A story of disintegration, Journal of European Integration, 40(2), 145-159.

Neframi, E. (2011) Division of competences between the European Union and its Member States regarding immigration, DG IPOL, Coverage Division C: Residents’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs, European Parliament, Brussels.

Orbie, J. (2020) Worldwide improvement: A definite and challenged coverage area, in H. Wallace, M. Pollack, C. Roederer-Rynning, and A. Younger (eds.), Coverage-Making within the European Union (8thversion), Oxford: Oxford College Press, pp. 413-439.

Poast, P. (2013) Challenge linkage and worldwide cooperation: An empirical investigation, Battle Administration and Peace Science, 30(3), 286-303.

Raty, T., Shilhav, R. (2020) The EU Belief Fund for Africa. Trapped between support coverage and migration politics. Oxfam. doi: 10.21201/2020.5532.

Santos Vara, J., Pascual Matellán, L. (2021) The externalisation of EU migration insurance policies: The implications arising from the switch of tasks to 3rd international locations, in Douma, W. T., Eckes, C., van Elsuwege, P., Kassoti, E., Ott, A., Wessel, R. A. (eds.) The Evolving Nature of EU Exterior Relations Regulation. The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press.

Schöfberger, I. (2019) The EU’s negotiation of narratives and insurance policies on African migration 1999-2019, European Overseas Affairs Evaluation, 24(4), 513-532.

Smith M. H. and Youngs, R. (2018) The EU and the worldwide order: Contingent liberalism, The Worldwide Spectator, 53(1), 45-56.

Unusual, M. and Oliveira Martins, B. (2019) Claiming parity between unequal companions: How African counterparts are framed within the externalisation of EU migration governance, World Affairs, 5(3), 235-246.

Zanker F. (2019) Managing or limiting motion? Diverging approaches of African and European migration governance, Comparative Migration Research,7(17). doi:10.1186/s40878-019-0115-9

Additional Studying on E-Worldwide Relations

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button