Navigation path

International Affairs

 If it is to be effective in better managing migration and mobility and in responding to security challenges, the EU needs to work with countries outside the EU. The area of justice, freedom and security is a central priority in the EU's external relations, ensuring a coordinated and coherent approach, involving all relevant stakeholders. Partnership with non-EU countries on these issues also aims to strengthen the rule of law, law-enforcement reform and promote respect for human rights and international obligations.

Thematic priorities

The strategic guidelines for the legislative and operational planning in the area of freedom security and justice, adopted by the European Council on 26-27 June 2014, emphasise the importance of the external dimension and the need to intensify cooperation with non-EU countries  EU external action focuses on:

  • Migration and asylum: with a view to increasing EU dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin and transit in order to manage migration flows more effectively, the EU's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) provides an overarching framework for EU external asylum and migration policy. The agenda is balanced and comprehensive, aimed at four equally important objectives: (a) better organising legal migration, and fostering well-managed mobility, (b) preventing and combating irregular migration, and eradicating trafficking in human beings, (c) maximising the development impact of migration and mobility, and (d) promoting international protection, and enhancing the external dimension of asylum. Protection of human rights is a cross-cutting dimension.
  • Security: the EU engages with non-EU countries to combat serious organised crime, drugs and trafficking in human beings. It does this, inter alia, by focusing the EU's counter-terrorism activities primarily on prevention and on the protection of critical infrastructures, as well as, by ensuring that there is coherence and complementarity between the internal and external aspects of EU security policies.

Geographic priorities

Priority in the external dimension is given to the following countries and regions:

  • Enlargement countries: helping  candidate and potential candidate countries developing their national legislation in line with  the EU acquis and strengthening their administrative capacities to implement it, so as to prepare them for accession. Meanwhile, developing  their cooperation with the EU, notably through enhancing cooperation on security and people to people contacts.
  • The EU’s neighbourhood: seeking a more efficient management of borders and migration flows, and – where appropriate – supporting mobility of people through the conclusion of Mobility Partnerships, visa facilitation agreements and by conducting visa liberalisation dialogues. In the security area, the focus is on security sector reform as well as the fight against terrorism, corruption and organised crime.
  • Strategic Partners: maintaining the transatlantic dialogue with the United States and Canada, implementing the Common Space on Freedom, Security and Justice with Russia, and increasing strategic cooperation with other strategic partners.

Particular importance is attached to developing cooperation with international organisations, especially United Nations agencies, UNHCR and IOM.

Targeted instruments

The EU uses a number of different instruments to implement the external dimension of its policies in the area of justice, freedom and security . These include: legal agreements, declarations, action plans and agendas, expert and ministerial meetings, sub-committees, monitoring and evaluation, assistance programmes, operational support and capacity building, as well as the specific frameworks and instruments available under the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility.

Additional tools

N 090126248f081977 /dgs/home-affairs/e-library/documents/policies/international-affairs/general/index_en.htm 3903 xml Y /dgs/home-affairs/e-library/documents/policies/international-affairs/general/index_en.htm /dgs/home-affairs/e-library/documents/policies/international-affairs/general/index_zz.htm N ID_INTERNAL N N
Related legislation
and documents


Trafficking in human beings

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or reception of persons, including the exchange or transfer ...



A person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political ...


Organised crime

Activities of large-scale criminal and terrorist networks, including terrorism, international drugs trafficking, trafficking ...


Migration flow

The number of migrants crossing a boundary, within a specific time period, for the purpose of establishing ...



The movement of a person or a group of persons, either across an international border (international migration),...


Legal migration

Migration that occurs through recognised, authorised channels.


Irregular migration

The movement of a person to a new place of residence or transit using irregular or illegal means, without valid ...


Global Approach to Migration

The external dimension of the EU's migration policy that brings together migration, external relations and ...



The body of common rights and obligations that is binding on all EU States. (...)