"Increased external action" against migration: draft European Council conclusions


On 9 and 10 February the European Council will meet to approve conclusions on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the economy and migration. A draft version of the conclusions, published here, reinforces longstanding calls to increase the externalisation of migration controls.

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Image: European Union


UPDATE, 8 February

New draft version of the conclusions (pdf) including a call for "the mobilisation of EU funds and means to support Member States in reinforcing border control capabilities and infrastructure, means of surveillance, including aerial surveillance, and equipment. In this context, the European Council invites the Commission to quickly finalise the European Integrated Border Management Strategy"


The draft conclusions (pdf) have six sub-headings concerning migration:

  • Control of EU external borders: the Council "affirms its full support for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) in delivering on its core task" and "calls for the rapid conclusion of negotiations on new and revised Status Agreements between Frontex and third countries"
  • Increased external action: "The existing action plans for the Western Balkans and the Central Mediterranean should be implemented, and action plans for the Western and Eastern Mediterranean should be presented by the Commission [by the end of February 2023]," and "the European Council emphasises that the monitoring of neighbouring countries’ visa policy should be strengthened."
  • Enhancing cooperation on returns and readmission: "Swift action is needed to ensure effective returns from the European Union to countries of origin using as leverage all relevant EU policies, instruments and tools, including development, trade and visas as well as opportunities for legal migration"
  • Fighting migrant smuggling: "take forward the work on relevant tools, including measures against transport operators involved in migrant smuggling" (this concerns measures put forward in November 2021)
  • Data on migratory flows: "The European Council invites the Council and the Commission, with the support of relevant EU agencies, to enhance situational awareness and the availability of data on migratory flows, both into and within the European Union."
  • Pact on Migration and Asylum: "the European Council calls on the EU co-legislators to continue work on the Pact on Migration and Asylum as provided for in the Joint Roadmap agreed with the European Parliament in September 2022."

A report in The Guardian based on the conclusions states:

"The European Union could use development aid, trade policy and access to visas as “leverage” over non-EU countries that are deemed to be failing to take back their citizens denied the right to stay in Europe, according to a draft communique seen by the Guardian."


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Further reading

09 January 2023

EU: Tracking the Pact: Civil-military "synergies" for external migration control

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11 January 2023

EU: Democracy as a problem for deportations

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23 January 2023

Tracking the Pact: Unaccountable new decision-making bodies and "adaptable responsibility"

The latest Council draft of the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation (AMMR) includes a substantial number of changes, including the introduction of the concept of "adaptable responsibility" and an array of new bodies dominated by the member states intended to govern the implementation of EU migration policy.


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