Update on the state of play of external cooperation in the field of migration policy

March 8th, 2024

EU Update

In its February 2024 “Update on the state of play of external cooperation in the field of migration policy” the Commission services provide a substantial overview on the state of affairs regarding bilateral relations with non-EU states in the field of migration control, as well as the activities of multilateral frameworks in the field. The following summary of the 103-page document focuses on the EU cooperation with African states and is clustered along key bilateral EU externalization instruments before considering multilateral instruments.

Bilateral EU externalization instruments

Framework for regular dialogue on migration

The update highlights the importance of regular dialogue frameworks for building externalized migration control with non-EU states. This is indicative of the importance for the EU to, firstly have dialogue frameworks with non-EU countries in place, in order to provide the space to regularly address matters related to migration control. Setting up new dialogue frameworks, where they do not exist seems to constitute a building stone of externalized migration control. Secondly, it highlights the fragmented nature of different dialogue frameworks that have emerged, ranging from formal instruments enshrined in EU strategies to informal arrangements. The following different frameworks have been identified from the document.

  • With Capo Verde (since 2008), Morocco (since 2013), and Tunisia (since 2014) the dialogue framework builds on the conclusion of a Mobility Partnership.
  • The EU and Tunisia have further deepened their framework for migration control cooperation through the signing of the EU-Tunisia Memorandum of Understanding on a strategic and global partnership signed on 16 July 2023.
  • The Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM) was signed between the EU and Ethiopia (2015) and Nigeria (2016). In Nigeria, the CAMM has resulted in 13 rounds of readmission agreement negotiations. Further, strategic dialogues between the EU and Nigeria have also addressed issues of migration control.
  • Ethiopia and the EU have moved towards a more informal arrangement after adopting a “Joint Declaration” entitled “Towards an EU-Ethiopia Strategic Engagement” which includes a sectorial dialogue on migration in 2016.
  • In Cameroon the latest structured political dialogue of June 2022, focused also on matters related migration and mobility and resulted in the launch of sub-committee on migration.
  • Senegal (2022) and Egypt (2017) are both engaging in a regular dialogue on migration. Since December 2022 Senegal and the EU have hold regular technical dialogues on deportations, with the fourth set to happen in April 2024.
  • EU and Algeria maintain an Informal Dialogue on Migration and Mobility.
  • The document further notes that for countries such as The Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo no structured dialogue is in place.

Funding instruments, budget support, EUTF, NDICI, Neighborhood Policy Instrument

The reports highlights the importance of different funding instruments, especially in the country section of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Senegal. Notably, funding instruments include the concluded EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, NDICI-GE – pertaining both to project funding and budget support – and related indicators, the Multi-Country Migration Programme for the Southern Neighbourhood. The update report shows that Algeria was eligible to EUTF funding but did not show an interest in the fund. EU projects and funding increasingly linking green transition and migration objectives, e.g. through a Team Europe Initiative aimed to develop green hydrogen in Mauritania and green energy transition being one of the five priority pillars of the EU-Tunisia Memorandum of Understanding. This indicates that an energy/ migration nexus seems to be evolving.

Financing national migration policies and national migration policy frameworks

The report also shows the importance of financing the formulation of migration policies in non-EU countries. In Cameroon the set-up of a national migration strategy is one of the priority outcomes of the structured political dialogue between the EU and the country. Equally, the EU has supported the implementation of Morocco’s National Strategy on Migration and Asylum since 2013 and in 2021 the EU attended the first meeting of the Steering Committee of Niger’s National Migration Policy in Niamey as an observer.

Article 25a of the EU Visa Code

With deportations being a key interest for the EU, the putting to use of Article 25 a of the EU Visa Code becomes evident in the update report. Follow up discussions on Article 25a in the framework of the Visa Code annual report have taken place with Cameroon. With Ethiopia discussions on the use of Article 25a have taken place, equally the EU has used its Visa Code to levy pressure on deportations with the Republic of Congo. Further Senegal was proposed for Visa restrictive measures under the article in 2022 – this has been put on hold for Senegal to follow up on its commitments and discussions are continuing under the ongoing Belgian Council presidency.

Talent partnership

The update indicates that Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt are currently engaged in the launch of “Talent Partnership” – which is a political instrument introduced under the New Pact and further outlined in the Communication on Attracting Skills and Talent to the EU published on 27 April 2022. Meanwhile, the use of the Talent Partnership to put pressure on non-EU countries becomes visible in the case of Nigeria and Senegal. In regard to the former the Update Report states: “the Commission has started assessing the feasibility of launching a Talent Partnership with Nigeria as one of the key components of a reinforced migration management cooperation with this country. A readmission agreement is the first step towards a comprehensive partnership, of which the Talent Partnership would be a component.” In a similar vein, the launch of a Talent Partnership with Senegal is considered not feasible in view of the overall level of cooperation – including with regard to deportation.

Frontex presence and cooperation

The document also gives some insights in the role of Frontex in the African context. Mauritania and Senegal are both key partner countries for the EU and negotiations on both Status Agreements and Working Arrangements have been pursued. According to the document, negotiations of a Status Agreement have stalled in the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023 while negotiations of a Working Arrangement are ongoing. Further, a “best practice” agreement has been under negotiation between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Frontex which “will allow to make returns to DRC smooth” and a first Nigeria bound Frontex led charter deportation was carried out on 14 September 2022, 40 Nigerian forced deportees from 4 MS (DE, AT, IT, NL). The document further indicates that prior to the coup in Niger Frontex had further taken first steps towards negotiating a working arrangement with Frontex.

Anti-migrant smuggling operational partnership

Anti-migrant smuggling operational partnerships are another cooperation instrument introduced under the New Pact. Morocco was the first country to sign such an operational partnership, followed by Niger (now on hold).


The document indicates that Common Security and Defense Policy Missions remain a central part of the EU’s external migration control instruments. In Libya, the EU Border Assistance Mission EUBAM Libya has been prolonged until 30 June 2025. The mandate of EUNAVFOR MED was prolonged until 31 March 2025. Niger’s EUCAP Sahel Niger mission which had a migration mandate since July 2015, had concluded a Working Arrangement with Europol, is currently on hold.

Multilateral migration externalization frameworks

The Africa-EU Migration and Mobility Dialogue

The Africa-EU Migration and Mobility Dialogue constitutes the framework for dialogue on migration between the EU and all African states. Launched in 2007, its next meeting is set to be in March or April 2024 in Brussel as part of the EU AU Ministerial meetings. No meetings took place in 2023.

The Rabat Process

The Rabat process was launched in July 2006 as a High Level Regional Consultative Framework between EU MS, North and West African states under the Global Approach to Migration. Its thematic meetings in 2003 included “voluntary return and reintegration,” “Humanised Border Management,” “Separation of families and missing persons in the context of migration: prevention, tracing and reunification” and in 2024 “Circular Migration: a cycle of opportunities and skills development.”

The Khartoum Process

The Khartoum process was launched in 2014 and is a High Level Regional Consultative Framework between EU MS and representatives of states within the Horn of Africa. Its thematic meetings in 2023 had the themes “Building Resilience and Ensuring the Protection of and Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),” “‘Exploring the Potential of mobility in the Context of Climate Change,” and in 2024 “Enhancing regional multi-stakeholder partnerships on combatting trafficking in persons” and “on Building Resilience and Ensuring the Protection of and Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)”

The ACP-EU Migration Dialogue

The ACP-EU Migration Dialogue was launched in June 2010 and its dialogues are based on Article 13 of the Cotonou Agreement (enshrining the duty to accept deportation of nationals that do not hold legal status). With the signing of the EU - Samoa Agreement in November 2013, it will be replaced by the Partnership Dialogue of which the modalities still have to be defined.