EU Mobility partnerships: a comparative policy evaluation

One of the most interesting new initiatives are the so-called Mobility Partnerships between the European Union, on the one hand, and third countries on the other (see Council Conclusions on mobility partnerships and circular migration in the framework of the global approach to migration, 10 December 2007). On 21 May 2008 the first two pilot partnerships were concluded between the EU and Moldova and Cape Verde. Additional partnerships with Georgia and Senegal are currently being negotiated. Though the overall goal of these partnerships is the responsible joint management of migratory flows, the agreements distinguish three more specific aims:

  1. general capacity building for migration management in the third country
  2. stimulate positive development effects of migration, including sustainable reintegration, reducing negative effects of brain drain and brain waste, targeted remittance schemes
  3. combating illegal migration, including border control, return and readmission.


The partnerships are concluded between the EU and the respective third countries, but each partnership specifies which EU member states participate (Cape Verde: Spain, France, Luxembourg, Portugal; Moldova: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech republic, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden). The European Commission does not formally conclude the partnerships but is responsible for exploratory talks with third countries, and for the implementation, as well as the evaluation of pilot-projects.

The research question of this project will be the following: to what extent, and under which conditions, can mobility partnerships contribute to the realisation of both development policy objectives and migration policy objectives? Specific questions relate to the negotiation process between the EU and third countries (to what extent does negotiating through the EU increase the bargaining power of the member states vis-à-vis third countries?) as well as to the implementation phase of the agreement (how are the general goals of the agreement implemented in specific projects? How successful are these projects?). In order to assess the impact of these new instruments the related initiatives from the recent past will also be analysed (e.g. EU funding of projects to provide management of legal migration flows and circular migration; funding of regional migrant service centres providing information on migration policies and labour market needs of destination countries; readmission; etc.). Lastly the research will asked the question, what is the added value of mobility partnerships in comparison with already existing EU dialogue structures and projects?

The project will assess the four pilot partnerships that are either already concluded (Cape Verde and Moldova) or currently under negotiation (Senegal and Georgia). A comparative analysis of these different partnerships will generate insights into the factors that may lead to success or failure of the different aspects of the partnerships. In order to assess the involvement of different member states the project will also focus specifically on at least two EU member states that participate in these partnerships). Data collection will take place in national capitals, Brussels, and in the respective third countries.