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Welcome to the first edition of this new bulletin, Outsourcing borders: Monitoring EU externalisation policy. With this publication, we aim to shine a light on discussions and negotiations that take place behind closed doors, with little public attention or democratic scrutiny. We are doing so to inform the longstanding political and social struggle for just and humane migration policies – a struggle that is more crucial than ever, in the context of the EU’s recently-agreed Pact on Migration and Asylum.

By providing and analysing official documents – many of which have not formally been made public – we hope to support the campaigning, legal and advocacy work of organisations not just within the EU, but in those states where the EU’s migration policies are underpinning human rights abuses and support for undemocratic regimes.

In this first phase of the project, we are focusing our resources on the Council of the EU, and on those working parties and structures that have a particular role in advancing the externalisation agenda. These bodies are explained in more detail in one of the two analyses included in this bulletin, and our online document archive contains a wealth of primary source material, currently dating back to September 2023, the start of the current political term. You may notice that, so far, we have not published any documents from the Operational Coordination Mechanism for the External Dimension of Migration (MOCADEM) – but we will have plenty of material produced and discussed by that body in our second issue, due out at the end of June.

The second analysis in this issue examines a note from the European Commission outlining its rationale for signing an agreement on migration with the Mauritanian authorities. The analysis, by Hassan Ould Moctar, concludes that “migration control cooperation will remain both a central diplomatic issue between the EU and Mauritania as well as a contested one within the country.” It might also be observed that the Mauritanian authorities have clearly understood that migration is a key issue that can be used to extract financial and political support from the EU and its member states – something that the authorities in other countries, such as Turkey and Tunisia, know only too well.

We have summarised the key issues emerging from the documents published for this bulletin, in order to provide pointers to those working on the topic. However, this information should only be seen as a starting point. To dig into the details of the policies, projects and plans under discussion, and their effects, will require dedicated work by journalists, researchers and investigators. Challenging these policies will require further efforts. We hope that with this publication, we can provide information to underpin those challenges.

- Chris Jones, Statewatch

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