Ongoing and concluded PhDs

PhD researcher or student information

Cristina Milano

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Discipline: Law

Degrees BA: Single Cycle Master's Degree in Law at LUISS Guido Carli


II Level Master's Degree in Protection and Human Rights at "La Sapienza" University of Roma

PhD Research Information

Transformative Trends in the EU External Action on Migration and Asylum: Informalization, Conditionality, Sanctioning and other Alternatives to Readmission

Brief description:

Readmission of own nationals constitutes undoubtedly an existing obligation under customary international law. Its legal basis comes from the fundamental right to leave and return to one’s country, a right enshrined in many treaties, such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In this regard, Article 13(2) of the UDHR affirms that every single person has "the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his own country". Starting from such considerations, readmission agreements have been used for a long time as one of the main tools to tackle illegal immigration at bilateral, multilateral and EU level. Specifically, the EU readmission agreements (hereinafter, EURAs) are concluded between the EU and third countries, seeing an increasing role of the European Parliament since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon (Article 218 TFEU). Currently, the EU has concluded eighteen EURAs and, for other six countries, the Council has given the Commission a mandate to open negotiation processes. Additionally, within the EU legal framework, it is pivotal to mention Article 13 of the Cotonou Agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, concluded in 2000 by the EU, which declares that “each of the ACP States shall accept the return of and readmission of any of its nationals who are illegally present on the territory of a Member State of the European Union, at that Member State’s request and without further formalities”.

After facing many problems related to the conclusion and implementation of formal readmission agreements with third countries, several Member States - mainly France, Greece, Italy and Spain - have recently decided to deal with readmission cooperation without necessarily adopting standard instruments. However, it is worth noting that the EU cooperation on readmission continues to be affected by many uncertainties, implementation gaps and unbalanced reciprocities between parties.

The present Ph.D. thesis will consider whether the informalization process in the EU external action on migration, as well as the use of sanctions, could constitute effective alternatives to successfully overcome the standstill of readmission. Moreover, the innovation of the research should result in providing further legal alternative ways to readmission negotiations with several third countries, which are likely to remain stalled. In order to do so, the dissertation will have the purpose to achieve the following goals/objectives:
- Objective 1: Drawing international and EU "formal" cooperation on readmission. The first part of the present research aims to analyse the existing literature on "formal" readmission agreements, both from an international and EU law perspective. Subsequently, the dissertation will review the scope of EU Readmission agreements (EURAs), the EU competence to conclude such instruments, their legal nature, as well as the main aspects of the "standard" negotiation process.
- Objective 2: Examination of the transformative trends towards informalization, sanctioning and alternatives to readmission in the EU legal framework. In the second part, dedicated to the examination of the transformative trends and alternatives to readmission, this Ph.D. thesis investigates the process of informalisation on readmission at the EU level, specifically addressing to the reasons justifying its increasing use. Furthermore, informalisation and the use of sanctions within the EU international relations on migration will be considered as possible alternatives to readmission in order to overcome its existing impasse.
- Objective 3: Exploring further alternatives to readmission. The achievement of such objective will result by the research outcomes obtained in relation to Objective 2. The last Chapter will, in fact, explore additional legal options to readmission. The latter will be examined considering their legal basis, their drawbacks and main strengths, as well as their impacts on the EU migration and asylum legal framework. For each option, the assessment will provide conclusions based on the results of the research. The main aim will be providing some legal considerations on possible alternatives to readmission and how these different options can be implemented in concrete.


The present study will primarily embrace a legal perspective, basing the analysis on the conceptual tools of EU migration and asylum law, together with public international law and international law of the Treaties. Nonetheless, the examination of different case studies (namely case studies related to France, Italy and Spain because of their considerable engagement in both formal and informal cooperation on readmission) and statistical data will be important elements to provide an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the objectives of the work. Furthermore, it is important to highlight that the analysis of EU cooperation on readmission at the bilateral and multilateral level principally relies on the essential contribute and works of Jean Pierre Cassarino. In addition, the thesis will benefit from an efficient interview-based investigation; for instance, the idea of the research is to conduct interviews with migrants, refugees, Agencies' representatives, Italian, Spanish and French authorities, and experts with a deep knowledge of the topic or a demonstrated in-the-field experience.

Keywords: cooperation with third countries, EU Asylum Law, EU Asylum Policy, External action, Migration, Competences, Coherence, Solidarity, Partnerships, international cooperation, READMISSION

Language(s) of writing: English

Country: Italy

Home University:

University of Tuscia


DISTU - Department of Law

Supervisor: Daniela Vitiello
Start date: 01-12-2021
PhD current status: PhD Ongoing
PhD research funded by: University of Tuscia
Name of grant:
Added to catalogue on: 16-06-2022

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