Migration and Home Affairs

Southern Mediterranean

Events in the Southern Mediterranean since the end of 2010, known popularly as the "Arab Spring", provided a unique opportunity for citizens of these countries to express their desire for democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. These events also led to significant population movements, mainly from the Southern Mediterranean countries towards their immediate neighbors as well as towards the EU. The EU immediately took action to deal with the migration crisis and proposed a set of concrete measures [727 KB] to address the issue in the longer term. Among these, the Dialogue on migration, mobility and security, which may lead to the negotiation of mobility partnerships, is an important framework for the EU to strengthen ties with its Southern neighbors. Morocco is the first country from the Mediterranean region to enter into a mobility partnership with the EU and negotiations are on-going with Tunisia. A Dialogue with Jordan has also started.

Dialogue on migration, mobility and security

Relations with the Southern Mediterranean countries on migration-related issues are strategic, aimed at facilitating mobility but discouraging irregular migration. The EU’s policy framework for dialogue and cooperation on migration with non-EU countries is presented in the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). It is within this framework that the EU has proposed to establish structured dialogues on migration, mobility and security to the Southern Mediterranean countries [57 KB].

The dialogues are launched progressively taking into account the overall relationship that the EU maintains with each partner country, the current level of capacity in the partner country to manage migration flows and  the willingness of the latter to engage in a constructive and effective dialogue aimed at establishing the partnership.

The goal is to develop mobility partnerships, ensuring that the movement of persons between the EU and its partner countries is well managed and takes place in a secure environment. These partnerships are tailor-made to fit each partner country, in cooperation with EU States.

Once concluded, mobility partnerships will ensure that:

  • Mobility and legal migration between the EU and the Southern Mediterranean countries is well managed, for instance better information on employment, education and training opportunities available in the EU.
  • Cooperation is increased to prevent irregular migration and trafficking in human beings.
  • The impact of migration on development is maximized, for example through assistance for returned migrants who want to help build up their home country.
  • The capacity of Southern Mediterranean countries in the field of asylum and international protection is increased.

The implementation of the mobility partnerships will include opening negotiations on an agreement for facilitating the issuing of Schengen visas for certain groups of people, particularly students, researchers and business professionals. Sufficient safeguards must be in place for the lifting of mobility restrictions to work. Partners must ensure that they take every possible measure to prevent irregular migration and to this end, agree to conclude a readmission agreement allowing for the return of citizens who do not have the right to stay in Europe.

Until now the EU has finalised Dialogues on Migration, Mobility and Securities with Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. More Dialogues with other Southern Mediterranean countries are under consideration.

These Dialogues allowed the EU to conclude a mobility partnership with Morocco on 7 June 2013, a mobility partnership with Tunisia on 3 March 2014 and a mobility partnership with Jordan on October 9, 2014.

Cooperation with the ‘Euro-Med’ region

Regional relations between the EU and Southern Mediterranean countries started in 1995 with the Euro-Mediterranean conference in Barcelona. An action plan encompassing points on migration, social integration, justice and security, as well as a code of conduct for counter-terrorism , were adopted in 2005. A first-ever Euro-Mediterranean ministerial meeting on migration took place in Albufeira (Portugal) in 2007 which led to the adoption of ministerial conclusions to increase cooperation at regional level in the field of migration.

At national level, the EU concluded Association Agreements with each and every Southern Mediterranean country (except Libya and Syria), which were subsequently complemented by European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plans. The EU and the Southern Mediterranean countries monitor together the implementation of these documents. Cooperation and reforms in the areas of migration and security are promoted and supported through several EU funding programmes, in particular the Euromed Migration and the Euromed police projects.