Multifaceted Migration Management: Bilateral Mobility Partnerships in the European Union

By Jelen, Heather | The George Washington International Law Review, April 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Multifaceted Migration Management: Bilateral Mobility Partnerships in the European Union


Jelen, Heather, The George Washington International Law Review


I. Introduction

Ahmed and Elias are both from The Gambia (Gambia), and they both had trouble finding work there.1 Ahmed heard that there were job openings in Denmark and decided to try to get one; however, he encountered many difficulties and ultimately was not allowed to go there, despite Denmark's need for labor.

It is not easy being a foreigner in Denmark. Rules and requirements for foreigners who want to marry a Danish citizen are strict, including a requirement that foreigners must reach a minimum age of twenty-four to marry.2 Rules prohibit state-funded homeless shelters from accepting foreigners who do not have permanent resident status, leading to people freezing to death in the cold winters.3 European and international bodies have accused Denmark of violating human rights legislation with these strict immigration laws.4 Politically, an anti-immigrant party made gains in recent years,5 strengthening a culture that is already hostile to people from other countries.

A change in leadership in Denmark in the latest election has helped the situation, and the new prime minister is working to roll back some of the strong anti-immigrant legislation.6 However, Denmark's international reputation concerning the human rights of immigrants remains on shaky ground.7

Elias, on the other hand, decided to go to Spain to get a job. He was able to get a job in an industry in which Spain had a shortage of workers through a comprehensive migration agreement that Spain has with Gambia, known as a bilateral mobility partnership.8 This partnership allows Elias to work in Spain for a specified period of time and gain skills that he can bring back to Gambia.

Like Spain, Denmark should show the international community that it is serious about changing its stance on immigration by entering into a bilateral mobility partnership with a third-world country. Doing so would also provide Denmark needed workers9 and may even change Denmark's culture and treatment of immigrants.

Denmark is not alone in its struggle with migration-many countries face the same issues.10 The debate is often virulent, with both sides arguing strongly for their viewpoints and making little progress.11 Migration problems typically occur in both migrant-sending countries and migrant-receiving countries.12 The problem of irregular immigration13 has caused extreme conflict across the political spectrum.14 It affects human trafficking,15 national sovereignty, national security, and human rights, among other issues.16 For some individuals, this has created life or death situations.17

This Note proposes that countries in the European Union engage in bilateral mobility partnerships with third world countries as a step toward solving the many problems with migration. Bilateral mobility partnerships allow countries to tailor their immigration policies to their specific security and labor needs, encourage cooperation with other countries, and cut back on irregular migration.18

This Note begins by giving background information on bilateral mobility partnerships. It then proposes specific terms that should be included in these agreements. This Note uses Denmark as a case study, showing how a bilateral mobility partnership would work there and how it would be an improvement over Denmark's current immigration policies.

II. Background

This Part begins with a general definition of bilateral mobility partnerships, followed by a brief history of these types of agreements. Third, it explores the main aspects of the bilateral mobility partnerships that have already been entered into. Fourth, it addresses some arguments against bilateral mobility partnerships. Fifth, it looks at reasons for addressing the migration issue bilaterally. Finally, it gives a brief history of Denmark's recent immigration policies and controversy.

A. Definition of a Bilateral Mobility Partnership

A bilateral mobility partnership is an agreement between two countries, an immigrant-receiving country (the host country) and an emigrant-sending country (the home country), seeking to facilitate the movement of persons between the two countries. …

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