EU-Morocco Cooperation on Readmission: A model to follow?

Greater cooperation with third countries is one of the EU’s core responses to the refugee crisis. This cooperation is focused on the read mission of individuals irregularly staying in the EU, on border surveillance and control, and on the reception of refugees in third countries. The EU has attempted to coopt Turkey and African countries into these priorities, using funding and specific mobility channels as incentives. This paper poses the question of what kind of cooperation the EU should pursue with third countries. As the current approaches are not new, we present the lessons from the EU’s long cooperation with Morocco to inform the current debate. We find that, first, the difficult negotiations on an EU Readmission Agreement with Morocco show that more funding or ‘incentives’ cannot guarantee such an agreement, let alone its implementation. Second, we highlight the challenges of the partly EU-funded and Frontex-coordinated cooperation on borders between Spain and Morocco, which hampers the capacity of third countries to respect migrants’ rights and challenges the obligations of EUmember states under European and international law. Third, as EU cooperation with Turkey and Africa now aims to ‘stem’ the flow of asylum-seekers, the capacity of third countries to offer reception and protection to asylum-seekers is crucial. We conclude that Morocco has limited capacities in this regard, which raises the question of whether third countries can be assumed to be able to offer such reception and protection. We argue that the lessons learnt from the cooperation with Morocco illustrate the limited feasibility and appropriateness of the EU’s approach towards third countries.Cooperation with third countries should not come at the expense of migrants’ rights, but should open up regular channels for seeking asylum, and not link readmission to other fields of EU external action under the‘more-for-more’ principle.

Sergio Carrera, Jean-Pierre Cassarino, Nora El Qadim,Mehdi Lahlou and Leonhard, den Hertog, CEPS Paper in Liberty and Security in Europe

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