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Legal Migration in the Relationship between the European Union and ACP Countries: The Absence of a True Global Approach Continues

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For a long time, the relationship between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) was characterized by the focus on trade issues. In recent years however, other policy aspects have emerged, amongst which migration. This evolution results from the gradual recognition of the importance of migration in the Union’s external relations. The mainstreaming of migration in the relations with third countries raised the need for a Global Approach to Migration (2005) connecting illegal and legal migration, as well as introducing a positive migration-development nexus. The acknowledgement of a possible positive contribution of legal migration ‐ if well managed ‐ for developing countries, has resulted into new concrete initiatives such as circular migration, mobility partnerships and the Blue Card Directive. A closer look at the policy frameworks, as well as specific measures demonstrate however, that a true comprehensive approach is a long way from home. It is examined if the specific EU-ACP relationship offers a different point of view and effectively makes migration work for the development of both parties. More specifically, do the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) correspond to the abovementioned goal? A comprehensive and coherent legal framework that unites the interests of the Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and those of the developing countries, on the other hand, seems a distant perspective. It is concluded that ambitious policy objectives have been set and are waiting to be addressed by corresponding policy frameworks and legal commitments.


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Affiliations: 1: European Law Department, University of Ghent Belgium


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