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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 external dimension of the Stockholm programme, adopted in May 2010, sets out the EU’s priorities for cooperation with international organisations and countries outside the EU in the area of justice, freedom and security for the period 2010-14. 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. The human rights of migrantsare a cross-cutting dimension, of relevance to all four objectives.
  • 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

Dialogue and cooperation on migration, asylum and security issues focuses on the following countries and regions:

  • Enlargement countries: helping acceding and candidate countries adjusting to the EU acquis.
  • The EU’s neighbourhood: implementing the freedom, security and justice component of the European Neighbourhood Policy, in view of better managing migration flows, managing borders more efficiently and – where appropriate - supporting mobility of people through the conclusion of mobility partnerships, visa-facilitation agreements and by conducting visa-dialogues.
  • 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 on Home Affairs issues with other strategic partners.
  • Other partners: strengthen  cooperation to better manage migration flows and mobility and prevent illegal activities within the framework of Partnership and Cooperation Agreements.
  • Particular importance is attached to developing cooperation with international organisations, especially United Nations agencies, UNHCR and IOM.

Targeted tools

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 as well as the specific frameworks and instruments available under the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility.

Additional tools


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. (...)