Cooperation beyond Borders – EU Migration Cooperation with Third Countries Explained

Why does EU migration cooperation with third countries vary to a large extent? And how come that the EU is unable to attain its migration policy goals with regard to cooperation with third countries? These two questions guide my PhD project. In recent years, the EU has increased its efforts to cooperate widely with third countries in the area of migration; especially with regard to the use of migration policy tools like EU Readmission Agreements, Visa-Facilitation Agreements, Frontex Working Arrangements, legal migration instruments like Mobility Partnerships and cooperation between EASO and third countries. Despite this increased cooperation, in 2015 the migration crisis culminated and a coherent explanation for the varying cooperation is lacking. To shed light on the reasons why that is, I use a comparative research design with fuzzy-set QCA to investigate conditions under which the scope of migration cooperation is extensive, and the commitment is intensive regarding the application of cooperation tools in the neighbouring countries of the EU and countries beyond the immediate neighbourhood shortly after the migration crisis (ca. 50 cases). My own theoretical framework for EU migration cooperation, that divides the level of cooperation in two dimensions, extensity and intensity, is based on the tenets of the literature on ‘Europeanisation beyond borders’ and ‘external migration governance’ and, more generally, cooperation between the EU and the Global South. From these tenets I will derive conditions that will be tested with fsQCA. Preliminarily, I identified the following five conditions: (1) migration flow; (2) democracy; (3) existing relations; (4) economic dependence; (5) bureaucratic effectiveness. From the results, I will then go on to investigate in small-n case studies, what the reasons are that the EU is (un)able to reach its migration policy goals in cooperating with third countries. The results shall explain the persisting variance in the use of policy tools and the influence of EU policy while providing a new framework for examining EU (migration) cooperation with third countries. Furthermore, I seek to gain a better understanding of migration cooperation and establish why migration policy is unable to solve the migration crisis.