Access denied

Access denied: Secrecy and the externalisation of EU migration control

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For at least three decades, the EU and its Member States have engaged in a process of “externalisation” – a policy agenda by which the EU seeks to prevent migrants and refugees setting foot on EU territory by externalising (that is, outsourcing) border controls to non-EU states. The EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum, published in September 2020, proposed a raft of measures seeking to step up operational cooperation and collaboration in order to further this agenda.

This report aims to contribute to public and political debate on the transparency, accountability and legitimacy of the externalisation agenda. It contains a series of case studies on three key target states for the EU – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Morocco and Niger – based on information received in response to access to documents and freedom of information requests submitted to institutions within those countries, as well as within the EU itself.

Product details
Date of Publication
December 2022
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union & Statewatch
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents




Executive summary

Operationalising the New Pact on Migration and Asylum

The externalisation of migration control: a longstanding priority

High-level diplomacy for migration control

Boots on the ground in Niger

Extending the Deportation Union to the Balkans

Influence operations in Morocco

EU agencies seek a foothold in Morocco

Annex I: Overview of requests and responses

Annex II: Attendees at the Ministerial Return Conference, February 2022