CARIM - Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration

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Border Management


International migration, by definition, implies the crossing of international borders. Border management is thus an integral part of migration management.

In the EU, the lifting of internal border controls (between EU member states) has been accompanied by the strengthening of external border controls (between an EU member state and a third country). In the framework of its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the European Commission is trying to secure the management of its Eastern and Mediterranean borders, by reframing its partnership with its direct neighbours and by promoting sustainable economic and social development of the bordering regions. The rationale of the ENP lies in showing that the EU and its neighbours have a “mutual interest in cooperating, both bilaterally and regionally, to ensure that their migration policies, customs procedures and frontier controls do not prevent or delay people or goods from crossing borders for legitimate purposes” (COM(2003) 104 Final, p. 6). 

The Euro-Mediterranean summit to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona Process (27-28 November 2005) has acknowledged that “migration, social integration, justice and security are issues of common interest” and accordingly stressed that “the Euro-Mediterranean partnership will enhance co-operation to […] reinforce judicial co-operation, including on cross border issues; […] Enhance cooperation to fight illegal migration. This cooperation should involve […] capacity building in border management and migration” (Euromed Report No 92).

Recent events on the African continent have heightened the need to design global programmes of cooperation at a broader geographical level. In its global strategy for Africa, the Commission proposed in October 2005 to include provisions in the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI) aimed at “supporting cooperation between the countries of Northern Africa and their Sub-Saharan neighbours on issues of common concern, including migration” (COM(2005) 489 Final, p. 37). This initiative somehow widens or extends the “geographical proximity” principle enshrined in the ENP. It may also reflect the fact that the EU is becoming increasingly aware of the need to find sustainable solutions to problems which occur far away from its direct neighbourhood, but which concern its neighbourhood and may determine, in the long run, their willingness to participate in the joint management of migration and border in the Euro-Mediterranean area.


The research will address the following issues:

- In a descriptive perspective, what are the mechanisms—in terms of objectives and means—put in place by Mediterranean countries of the Middle East and North Africa in order to manage mobility at their borders, with EU members states and other countries as well?

  • Objectives:
    Do the mechanisms of border control primarily aim at: curbing or regulating the mobility of persons? At promoting or protecting the circulation and trade of goods? At strengthening the security of residents? At protecting the domestic labour market? Granting a safe heaven for asylum seekers? Etc.
  • Means:
    Efficient border control may require adequate legislations, political measures, diplomatic steps, financial means, etc. The research will take into account the fact that border control is not limited to control at the borderline but may take place in other places (such as international airports, shores, etc.).

- In an analytical perspective, and given that the current situation varies from country to country, what does the reinforced control of borders which is advocated by EU and some of its member states imply legally, economically, socially, and politically?

  • Legally, to what extent provisions effectively impact on the regulation of border crossing? To what extent do they guarantee the respect of human rights, in particular Article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country”?
  • Economically, how does the border interact with the domestic economy (trade and labour market)? to what extent does reinforced border control foster economic benefits or generates loss of income? Does it alter actual patterns of border economies?
  • Socially, a bottom-up approach to practices of border-crossing by people (in the framework of trade, family relations, study, etc.) will demonstrate whether a top-down control of borders facilitates or hinders the making of society.
  • Politically, does the reinforced control of borders impact on the relationship between the individual and the state, and on state-building? Likewise does it ease or complicate international relations, in particular between neighbours?


Click here to view publications for this research programme.

Gender and Migration

CARIM has launched the new research topic: "Gender and Migration". Click here for more details and information on related events.

Highly-Skilled Migration

CARIM is currently publishing papers following research into Highly-Skilled Migration into, through and from the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and Sub-Saharan Africa. Click on the link to view the papers in the series.

Migration Profiles

CARIM Migration Profiles provide an overview of demographic, economic, legal and sociopolitical aspects shaping migration in the country.
Click here for more information

Irregular Migration

CARIM has published 36 papers as a result of research into Irregular Migration in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries.
Click on the link to view the papers in the series.

Circular Migration

CARIM has published 38 papers as a result of research into Circular migration in the Euro-Mediterranean area. Click on the link to view the papers in the series.

Iraqi refugees

CARIM has just published 10 papers on Iraqi Refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. Click on the link to view the papers.

Page last updated: 21/06/2006NULL