The ‘irregular’ distraction in the New Pact

Progressive Migration Group series

Policy Brief


In September 2020, the European Commission presented a ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’ that proposed “a comprehensive approach, bringing together policy in the areas of migration, asylum, integration and border management, and European Union’s (EU) relations with third countries”.

The proposal consists of an intricate and complicated set of legislation that, at least in theory, should reform the EU’s current asylum and migration policy, and ensure a holistic approach to migration management. According to the agreed roadmap, the European legislators should adopt the ‘new’ Pact by May 2024. However, the outcome of the ongoing negotiations is impossible to foresee, as EU member states’ deeply conflicting interests may eventually jeopardise a final agreement. In its current form, the Pact has been criticised by many observers, who regard it, beyond the dominant rhetoric that speaks of reform, as ‘old wine in a new bottle’.

The Pact, in fact, insists on the existing EU strategy, focused on curtailing ‘irregular migration’ and on the securitisation of migration. Such a regressive approach does not comply with human rights standards and worsens migrants’ vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the Pact does not take into consideration the interests and needs of the origin and transit countries it will have an impact on. This policy brief argues that only a negotiated strategy between Africa and Europe that reflects a common understanding of migration, mobility and development can eventually benefit both continents.

Progressive Migration Group

FEPS, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung EU Office and Fondation Jean-Jaurès came together to establish the Progressive Migration Group (PMG). The group, chaired by Anna Terron Cusi and composed of African and European migration experts, explores the relations and cooperation between the European Union and the countries of origin and transit, with the aspiration of abandoning the prevailing stagnant narratives surrounding migration, and, above all, with the ambition of formulating innovative recommendations and policy proposals for progressive forces at the EU and national levels in the field of migration management as well as in other policy areas that have an impact on migration causes and flows.

In particular, the project focuses on how these complex relations have been interpreted and translated into policies by the EU institutions, mostly aimed at curbing (irregular) migration by externalising migration control and management. This is a component of EU policy still prevailing in the (New) Pact for Asylum and Migration.

The PMG formulates alternative migration schemes between Africa and Europe that take on board this more profound understanding of this nexus.

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