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The North African Revolutions: A Chance to Rethink European Externalization of the Handling of Non-EU Migrant Inflows


  • This work was supported by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund of 2011–2012.


In this paper, I discuss EU and member state externalization of the handling of non-EU, irregular migration flows. Following a historical and theoretical Introduction, I address in section “European Reactions to the Migration Flows Following the Arab Spring” the migration consequences of the 2011 North Africa revolutions, focusing particularly on how they provoked an EU migration policy crisis. Then, I show in section “Migration Policy Development in the EU: Fortress Europe or Strategic Incoherence?” how this was an outcome of the ineffectualness and strategic incoherence of EU immigration policy. This is ironic because the EU is criticized—incorrectly, I claim—for having developed a well-oiled non-entrée regime that skirts human/immigrant rights obligations by externalizing interdiction, detention, and processing of irregular migrants to countries with lower detention standards and higher human rights abuse rates. In section “The Member States' Role in the Externalization of European Migration Policy”, I demonstrate that when such externalization policies are enacted, they are less due to EU action and more a function of member state decisions. I show that EU periphery member states are responsible for the most problematic policies partially because constraints on EU-level policy making incentivize these member states to erect “Fortress Europe” through their own devices.