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Did 2016 Mark a New Start for EU External Migration Policy, or Was It Business as Usual?


2016 has been sold as the year of innovative EU external migration policies. Have recent EU decisions and initiatives in this field really represented a change in direction? This paper argues that the EU’s external migration policy has long been based on the principles of externalization of migration control and conditionality in the relationship with third countries. The securitization of the EU’s external borders has long existed along with the lack of adequate legal migration channels. This has come at the cost of the protection of migrants’ and especially refugees’ rights. The EU-Turkey agreement and the New Partnership Framework are examined in order to assess whether they represent a change of this trend or merely its latest manifestation. The paper concludes that, despite some clear steps forward in 2016, there is still much left to do in order to create a real framework of common external migration action which moves away from securitization and externalization towards a protection-sensitive entry system.