European Migration and Diversity

Tackling irregular migration through development – a flawed approach?

22 May 2017
Marco Funk (Former Policy Analyst at the EPC), Frank Mc Namara (Policy Analyst), Romain Pardo (Policy Analyst) and Norma Rose (Former Programme Assistant at the EPC)

Faced with a large influx of asylum seekers in recent years, but little agreement among member states on how to share the burden, the EU is increasingly turning to third countries to reduce the number of irregular migrants arriving in Europe. The Union’s approach consists of addressing the ‘root causes of migration’ as well as strengthening third countries’ migration management, and is based on the premise that increasing development aid to developing countries will reduce the stimulus for emigration. This Discussion paper considers whether this premise is in fact true, and analyses the effectiveness of recent EU efforts in this regard. It argues that, despite the constraints of the current approach (including an oversimplified understanding of migratory dynamics), more effective cooperation with third countries to reduce irregular migration is still possible: instead of conditionality, the EU could offer other incentives, such as work/visa schemes, governance aid, trade agreements and/or decreasing the cost of remittances. And finally, there should be more options for migrants to come to Europe legally, in order to challenge smugglers’ markets and damage their business model.

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In this programme


Programme Team

Head of Programme 'Migration and Diversity' & Senior Policy Analyst

Marie De Somer

Policy Analyst

Frank Mc Namara

Junior Policy Analyst

Katharina Bamberg

Programme Assistant

Marta Llonch

Senior Adviser to EPC on migration and mobility policies

Yves Pascouau