Mobility Partnerships - An effective tool for EU external migration policy?

12 June 2012

“Migration Partnerships are the principle framework of bilateral cooperation on legal migration between third countries, the EU (represented by the European Commission) and an unspecified number of member states,” said Rob Rozenburg, deputy head of unit for international affairs at DG Home in the European Commission.

“Member states’ participation in Mobility Partnerships is voluntary. Not all of them participate. FRONTEX and NGOs like the Red Cross also take part. They are political declarations, not international agreements. This makes them fast to conclude and easy to implement,” Rozenburg said.

“Mobility Partnerships work so well because they’re not legally binding. They are designed to enhance the mobility of persons, put in place mechanisms to facilitate migration, inform migrants about ways to come to the EU, facilitate student exchanges, and ensure mutual recognition of qualifications,” among other things, the Commission official explained.

“We try to cooperate on combating irregular migration, on returns of illegal migrants and on readmission agreements,” said Rozenburg, adding that Mobility Partnerships also seek to facilitate short-term mobility, for example via visa facilitation.

“Maximising the development impact of migration is very important. Utilise the diaspora. Enhancing asylum systems and strengthening international protection is also part of Mobility Partnerships,” Rozenburg said.

“I disagree entirely with anyone who says that Mobility Partnerships are ineffective,” said Filip Jasiński, First Counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Poland to the EU.

“I see smiling faces when Mobility Partnerships are signed. Certain member states think they are totally unnecessary. Others see them as a tool to give third countries a political signal on future cooperation,” Jasiński said.

“Their voluntary nature allows us to move forward without producing general conclusions that mean nothing,” he said, arguing that “if we hadn’t tried out Mobility Partnerships, we’d now be in a very different position”.

“They are extremely effective. Also, hundreds of events are held under their banner which would otherwise be very difficult to promote,” Jasiński said.

“Mobility Partnerships are a very topical issue in the neighbourhood region. The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was born in response to the last enlargement and was an offer to the EU’s new neighbours,” said Miriam Brewka-Pino, a coordination officer in the ENP Coordination Unit of the European External Action Service.

“We should be as close as possible to boost our economic integration and improve people-to-people contacts,” Brewka-Pino argued.

Brewka-Pino said there were three important points to make about migration and mobility:

  • It is part of foreign policy: once it was something for interior ministers, but now it’s a key part of foreign policy, for example visa liberalisation, because partners see that as an extremely important part of relations with the EU.
  • “It addresses the human dimension of our relationships.”
  • It is a huge incentive for partner countries to reform and move closer to the EU, for example via visa liberalisation action plans.

“Mobility Partnerships are an effective and an important tool, because they allow us to address sensitive issues in a constructive – and less tense – manner. They provide a platform to make trade-offs, for example on visas or readmission agreements,” Brewka-Pino said.

“There’s no question that Mobility Partnerships are an effective tool, especially for Moldova,” said His Excellency Eugen Caras, Ambassador at the Mission of Moldova to the EU.

Caras cited facilitating legal migration and tackling illegal migration among the biggest advantages of a Mobility Partnership, and said a total of 85 initiatives had been concluded under the banner of the EU-Moldova one: some of which had been completed and some of which were on-going.

“Events and seminars are effective platforms for institutions back home to embrace EU standards and policies,” said Caras, insisting that the Mobility Partnership had “changed the perspective of EU member states to Moldova”.