The challenges posed by migration have put EU Member States’ solidarity to the test. Responding to a European Council request, in September 2020 the European Commission proposed a new pact on migration and asylum, to reinforce solidarity among the Member States and to strengthen EU migration management and asylum procedures, while also making them more consistent.
The proposed pact has an external aspect as well: building on current EU migration partnership frameworks, it aims to reinforce international partnerships with a view to ensuring effective returns, combating migrant smuggling more effectively, and developing legal migration channels. In the context of migration, the EU’s external policy has among its objectives to help third countries tackle the root causes of irregular migration or quests for asylum.
The European Parliament often emphasises this point, while warning at the same time that security and migration management concerns should not result in diverting funds from core EU development cooperation objectives.
This is also a concern among academia and non-governmental organisations dealing with migration issues: several have pointed out that the Commission’s proposals for the above-mentioned pact and the working document, recommendations and legislative proposals accompanying it put a lesser emphasis on pathways to legal migration than on measures aimed at incentivising third countries to retain possible irregular migrants or to accept returns.