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Geopolitics as a migration governance strategy: European Union bilateral relations with southern Mediterranean countries

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 05:04 authored by Michael CollyerMichael Collyer
The significance of regional consultative processes in the field of migration is well documented. Their popularity for states is typically explained by the opportunity they provide for largely non-binding discussions around sensitive, sovereignty-laden issues such as border control. Since the mid-1990s, a variety of intergovernmental meetings have been sponsored by the EU with the aim of discussing migration with neighbouring countries. European policy frameworks have specifically excluded the countries to the South from the possibility of membership, yet they are now absolutely crucial to the realisation of the EU's migration ambitions. Since the 1999 Tampere European Council relations with these states have been managed through a discourse of ‘partnership’, emphasising the regional ‘Euro-Mediterranean’ character of this relationship. This paper analyses EU relations with Southern Mediterranean states as a specific attempt to construct a geopolitical region—the Euro-Mediterranean area—from and through migration management strategies. It concludes that the development of policy in this area results from a huge number of poorly focused and sometimes contradictory initiatives that collectively make up a far more haphazard approach than the common externalisation critique suggests. This haphazard approach helps to explain the range of unintended consequences of this policy but may also lead to its limited successes.


Publication status

  • Published


Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies




Taylor & Francis





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  • Geography Publications

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