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

The legal and policy relevance of EU mobility partnerships: A comparative study of Morocco and Cape Verde

(ESR 6; University of Minho)

Research plan: What is the legal and policy relevance of Mobility Partnerships for the development of migration policies and laws in third countries? The aim of this thesis is to assess whether the soft law nature of Mobility Partnerships precludes any legal and policy relevance of this instrument, in particular for third countries, and if so, to understand what factors may be conducive or detrimental to the potential legal and policy relevance of Mobility Partnerships. The first hypothesis is that Mobility Partnerships while being soft law instruments, are not without relevance for the development of the legal and policy frameworks in Morocco and Cape Verde. The second hypothesis is that three main factors condition the way Mobility Partnerships can be relevant for legal and policy developments in third countries: the state of relations between third countries and EU Member States, the power of negotiation of a third country and its level of administrative capacity.

Research findings:

The thesis combines a comparative legal analysis of the development of the legal frameworks in Morocco and Cape Verde with an empirical study of the implementation of Mobility Partnerships’ projects. It is the connection between the legal analysis, the empirical analysis and the data obtained during the extensive fieldwork conducted in Cape Verde, Morocco, Belgium, Portugal and France that allowed us to provide a comprehensive overview of the implementation of Mobility Partnerships, their relevance for third countries and the role and interests of the different actors involved in the negotiation and implementation of Mobility Partnerships.

The thesis begins by analysing the legal nature of the Mobility Partnership instrument. In Chapter 2 we present the methodology and case selection used to conduct the analysis. In Chapter 3 we analyse the implementation of the Mobility Partnership from an empirical perspective. In Chapter 4 we analyse the legal and policy developments that occurred in Morocco and Cape Verde since the conclusion of their respective Mobility Partnership and discuss whether these developments are related to the Mobility Partnerships or not. In Chapter 5, we examine to what extent and how the three factors previously identified influence the legal and policy relevance of Mobility Partnerships for Morocco and Cape Verde.

One of the main reasons why the EU preferred Mobility Partnerships to be soft law instruments was its flexibility. In this thesis we found that Mobility Partnerships are flexible instruments that can be adapted to new political priorities. Therefore, they can play a role in continuing discussions between the EU and third countries.

Moreover, Mobility Partnerships are soft law instruments with potential legal and policy relevance for third countries. Our conclusion is that Mobility Partnerships have a “differentiated relevance”. Differentiated relevance means that in some cases legal and policy changes can be imposed by the EU, while in other cases the EU can support them according to the interests of the third country. The level of influence of the EU and Member States in the legal and policy developments as well as in the content of the new legal acts or policies can be differentiated depending on external factors. We argue that with a low level of negotiation power, the Mobility Partnership is mainly used as a tool by the EU and Member States to impose their interests upon the third country. Whereas, with a high negotiation power, the Mobility Partnership is used as a tool by the EU and the third country to achieve both their objectives. Moreover, the occurrence of legal transplants and policy transfer is higher if the country has a low power of negotiation. If a country has a low administrative capacity it will also be more likely to be influenced in its legal and policy development and the risk of transposition ad-litteram of legal provisions is even higher when the third country and a Member State have strong postcolonial ties and a tradition of legal transplant.

Finally, we argue that Mobility Partnerships do not deliver on their promise of increased mobility. However, this does not mean that Mobility Partnerships are not relevant for enhancing migrants’ rights. Both Mobility Partnership played a significant role in the development and implementation of immigration and asylum strategies in Cape Verde and Morocco aiming at enhancing the rights of immigrants living in these third countries and to improve their integration.


Status: finished. Dissertation successfully defended on 16 October 2018 at the University of Minho

Researcher: Fanny Tittel-Mosser


TRANSMIC CV (last updated September 2018): Fanny Tittel-Mosser holds a Master’s degree in Law and European studies as well as a Masters in international relations focused on development cooperation between the European Union and developing countries from the University of Strasbourg, France. In her Master thesis entitled “The Role Of Migrants’ Organizations In The Development Of The Country Of Origin: The Case Of Algerian Diaspora Organizations In France”, she analyses the bonds migrants from former colonies have with their country of origin and how they transfer their skills and competences through micro projects leading to local capacity building and development.

Working for a grassroots NGO in France on migration and development projects with Algeria, she developed her knowledge on migration and the role of Diasporas in the development of the country of origin. She mapped the network of Algerian migrants’ organizations in France and analyzed their impact in the former colony. Her experience with the International Organization for Migration liaison office to the United Nations in New York, gave her a broader perspective on migration policy, while also taking into account cross-cutting issues. Fanny has gained experience in the field of migration, intercultural dialog and youth through several projects with the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the Council of Europe. She speaks French, English, and Spanish and has an intermediary level of Portuguese, German and Greek.

She is currently a PhD researcher in Law and Political Science. Her research interests are postcolonial migration, migration law, EU legislation and migration policies with a strong focus on EU Mobility Partnerships, and migrant’s access to rights.