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EC Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements: A New Standard EU Foreign Policy Tool?

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This article offers an analysis of the objective, substance and political implications of EC visa facilitation and readmission agreements. These agreements have gained increasing importance in EU foreign policy making because the EU has started to view visa facilitation regimes not only as a necessary incentive for the signing of a readmission agreement, but also as a means for mitigating the negative side-effects of the Eastern Enlargement. In offering more relaxed travel conditions in exchange for endorsement of an EC readmission agreement and reforms in domestic justice and home affairs, the EU found a new way to pressure for reforms in neighbouring countries while meeting a major source of discontent in these countries. The analysis considers the broader implications of these agreements and argues that even if the facilitated travel opportunities are beneficial for the citizens of the target countries, the positive achievements are undermined by the Schengen enlargement which requires that the new member states tighten up their borders to their neighbours.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for European Integration Research, Austrian Academy of Scences, Vienna; 2: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin


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