Transnational Migration, Citizenship and the Circulation of Rights and Responsibilities (TRANSMIC)

Mapping the EU institutional setting and the funding schemes of migration and asylum policy – Tackling questions of coherency

(ER 11; CEPS)

This research project analysed the funding schemes in the EU external relations of migration, borders and asylum policies. These policies concern cooperation activities of the EU with third countries in these fields, such as on readmission, border surveillance and visa facilitation. An in-depth assessment of the funding schemes in this area proved very timely and policy relevant as they recently underwent major changes. Various funding instruments from the EU foreign, home and development affairs policy making communities result in a complex funding landscape. In light of the ‘refugee crisis’ that emerged over 2015 and 2016, the use of funding in this field gained even more salience. The EU established major funding initiatives for its cooperation with Africa and Turkey on these issues.

This research project disentangled these various funding schemes by mapping them and by developing a theoretical understanding of the involved dynamics. In doing so, the project adopted an actor-centred approach focusing on processes of priority setting for these funds. This helped to gather an understanding not only of what funding priorities are set, but also of why they are set by which actor. Looking at the funding dimension of this policy fields uncovered priorities in implementation, going beyond the analysis of policy and legal frameworks. Moreover, in the programming, management and implementation of these funds there are various legal and political principles at stake that were further explored. These include the coherence, transparency and accountability of the priority setting dynamics, the potential impact on the human rights of migrants, and the questions over legal competences.

The project took an interdisciplinary approach combining legal and political science, as well as sociological approaches, as reflected in a mixed-method methodology employing doctrinal legal analysis and semi-structured interviews.

In responding to the current gaps in the body of knowledge, the main contributions this project made were therefore:

  • An actor-centred mapping of the funding landscape at EU level in the external policies of migration, borders and asylum, and their priority setting dynamics. This was also accompanied by a theoretical understanding of this funding landscape, focusing on the political sociology of public finances and the principle of (financial) accountability.
  • A case study of the EU-Morocco Mobility Partnership and its funding and implementation dynamics. A research visit to Morocco to conduct interviews has been carried out for this purpose.
  • A case study of the role of international organisations in the EU funding instruments in the external policies of migration, borders and asylum. Research visits to Geneva and Vienna have been carried out for this purpose.
  • A theoretical analysis of the value of policy coherence in EU policy making, based on the case of this policy field.


Research period: November 2014 – November 2016

Researcher: Leonhard den Hertog  (profile page)


Currently, Leonhard works as a Research Fellow at CEPS, Brussels. He works within the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Unit. Please find his profile page here.