Joint Webinar: Reconsidering EU's Partnership and Cooperation Models on Return and Readmission

The EU and its member states increasingly focus on the external dimension of their migration policies. Beside legal instruments and policy measures, they also develop various formats of partnerships, cooperation models and programs, including financial incentives and conditionalities for the cooperation with third countries on the management of migration, borders, and asylum. Return and readmission becomes the most critical pillar of the EU's mobility partnership and other cooperation models.

Readmission agreements have been a priority for the EU and for other European countries like the UK, Norway and Switzerland, in the last 15 years with a view of facilitating cooperation with the countries of origin and transit when it comes to a return procedure (Slagter 2019).  However, main origin countries avoid signing legally binding formal readmission agreements with the EC despite long and repeated negotiation rounds (Slagter 2019). This leads the EU to start negotiating and concluding with other partnership and cooperation models such as non-binding cooperation formats, deals, statements, standard operating procedures, joint ways forward on migration issues and joint declarations with third countries. Accordingly, the scholarly literature on return and readmission exponentially grows, while there is an increasing attention on exploring formal-informal components. Some scholars argue how formal and informal features are intertwined in return and readmission arrangements, confirming the strong tendency for "a process of informalization in the field of return" (Molinari 2021), "the informalization of EU’s return policy" (Slominski and Trauner 2018) and "informalising EU readmission policy" (Cassarino 2017). Recently, Cardwell and Dickson conceptualize the tendency as a formal informality, which refers to "the appearance of formality, insofar as resembling familiar or established tools (regulations, directives, international agreements), but lacking the procedural safeguards, transparency and classification provided by law and legal processes." (2023, p.2).  

In this webinar, we would like to critically elaborate on various models of return and readmission arrangements. Some potential questions for discussion include:

\ What are the positive and negative lessons that can be drawn from EU cooperation models on return and readmission policies ? 

\ To what extent do the financial incentives  or conditionalities work in cooperation with third countries on the management of borders, asylum and return? 

\ What are the implications of overemphasis on deterring ‘irregular migration’ and return over the  credibility/legitimacy of the  EU? What are the unintended consequences of return and readmission cooperations? 

\ What are the limits of migration diplomacy (migration deals) with non-democratic regimes, considering their human rights records towards their own citizens and migrants?


Zeynep Sahin Mencutek (Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies, GAPs project)  

Arjen Leerkes (Erasmus Rotterdam University, FAIR project) 

Olga Jubany (University of Barcelona, MORE project) 

Paul James Cardwell (Professor of Law, King’s College London)

Moderated by Soner Barthoma (Uppsala University, GAPs project) 

Find out more here

Register here