Another nexus ? Exploring narratives on the linkage between EU external migration policies and the democratization of the southern Mediterranean neighbourhood



Since the beginning of the twenty-first century and after two turning point events – 09-11 terrorist attacks and the ‘Arab spring’ – both migration control and democracy promotion became central issues within EU foreign policy, in particular to what concern its relations with the southern Mediterranean neighbourhood. However, although many authors allude to the relation between these two policy dimensions, little is known about their linkage. On the one hand, the debate about EU external migration policies narratives has revolved mainly around the migration-security and migration-development nexus. On the other, whereas the developmental paradigm has dominated the root-causes approach little attention has been given to its political dimension. This article aims to overcome these limitations through exploring these other nexus: the one between these policies and the democratization of southern Mediterranean countries. To investigate this nexus I follow a Narrative Policy Analysis approach - the most suitable for investigating issues of high complexity, uncertainty and polarization, which seems to be precisely the case of EU external migration policies. Hence, drawing on longitudinal and interpretative content analysis of EU official documents covering the period between 1995 and 2018, this study seeks to expose the main narratives casted by the EU on the issue and to identify if there has been consistence or change in the stories and arguments over time and in particular, before and after the ‘Arab spring’. Ultimately, the goal was to confirm the presence of this nexus by exposing its complexity and trying to understand its configuration. This is considered as an important step towards further disentangling the logics and impacts of the externalization of EU migration policies towards its Southern Mediterranean neighbourhood.