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Cover International Relations and the European Union

15. Migration: The Dilemmas of External Relations1  

Christopher Hill

In the 21st century, migration has become a significant issue in international politics. The European Union (EU), as a zone of wealth and liberal democracy geographically close to the poor and often war-torn states of north Africa and the Middle East, has been a magnet to people desperate to improve their standard of living outside their own countries. But neither the individual EU member states, who retain full control over their own external borders, not the EU, have managed to settle on policies which strike a balance between their obligations to provide asylum and the increasing political pressures at home to restrict immigration. This chapter describes how migration has turned into a problem of foreign policy for the EU, and how efforts to forge a commonpolicy have mostly failed, including the management of the common external frontier. It goes on to discuss the EU’s relationship with international law and other international institutions, in the context of the constraints imposed by a turbulent external environment. The chapter concludes by examining the attempts to sub-contract the implementation of migration management to third states, focusing on relations with Turkey and with Libya.