Research on the external dimension of EU migration governance has focused on the EU’s interests, preferences, and policy efficiency and coherence. Little attention has been paid to the myriad ways both partner and third countries react to the union’s external action. We explore the European influence on immigration and refugee policy liberalisation in South America, a region not directly targeted by extra-regional migration governance. Based on the analysis of 130 original interviews with government officials and NGO and IO representatives in eight South American countries we show that - although South American policymakers generally regard the EU as a model of ‘efficiency’, in terms of the EU’s intra-regional mobility regime – the remarkable legislative liberalisation in the region took place in the context of both political and moral opposition to restrictive shifts in EU extra-regional migration governance. The paper contributes to the literature on the EU external migration governance, policy diffusion, and Latin American migration policies by uncovering some of the unintended consequences of European migration governance in South America.
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- EU external action
- migration governance
- policy diffusion
- South America