PhD position on Scrutinizing Externalization of Migration Management and International Protection Responsibilities.

PhD position on Scrutinizing Externalization of Migration Management and International Protection Responsibilities.

Published Deadline Location
17 Feb 18 Feb Maastricht

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Job description

You are invited to apply for a PhD position on Scrutinizing Externalization of Migration Management and International Protection Responsibilities. This PhD project will be carried out within the framework of the project "LIMES – the hardening and softening of borders". The duration of the research project will be four academic years. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 847596, and brings together different faculties of Maastricht University. The PhD project is co-financed by the Faculty of Law of Maastricht University.

The PhD candidate will receive extensive training, including regular supervision, and training offered by both the LIMES consortium and the Graduate School of the Faculty of Law.


Maastricht University (UM)


Candidates will be assessed based on the requirements outlined below. Candidates should make sure that their application letter demonstrates how they meet these requirements:

  • Master degree in European law, Migration Law; Human Rights Law;
  • Strong analytical skills;
  • Outstanding writing skills;
  • An obvious interest in academic research;
  • Capability of autonomously conducting original research as well as working in a team;
  • Fluency in English;
  • Willingness to relocate to Brussels for an external placement at the European Policy Centre (EPC) for six months.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1+3 years.

What we offer

We offer a dynamic and challenging job in an internationally-oriented organisation where people receive an advanced education and scholars conduct exciting research. You will be part of an international network of top universities and renowned scholars within the field.

We offer a 4-year full-time appointment as PhD candidate in one of the research projects under the umbrella of LIMES. The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended with another 3 years.

Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels (CAO VSNU) for PhD students starting with a salary of € 2.395,- with a yearly growth to € 3.061,- gross a month in year 4 (based on a full-time appointment.)

Each year the standard salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%.

You have to be willing to move to (the vicinity of) Maastricht. You will be eligible for an allowance for moving costs. You may also be eligible for an allowance for alternative housing. Other secondary conditions include e.g. a pension scheme and partially paid parental leave.

You will be provided with shared office space and a PC.

Maastricht University’s Terms of Employment are laid down in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local university provisions apply as well. For more information please see the website:

Estimated starting date: May 2021


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 20.000 students and 4.700 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.


EU’s Shifting Borders

EU’s external borders are constantly shifting through externalization, i.e. the transfer towards non-EU countries of migration management and international protection responsibilities. EU’s commitment to refugee protection has therefore developed in tandem with attempts to ensure that few asylum seekers would be able to reach the territory of EU Member States to claim asylum. EU’s ambivalent approach to providing protection jeopardises the fundamental rights of those seeking it and puts into question EU’s commitment to global responsibility sharing and solidarity.  At the same time, externalization also results in challenges for EU’s institutional framework and principles, especially competences and institutional balance.

More broadly, the EU continues to institutionalize externalization in its relations with third States, for example, through the introduction of negative conditionality between mobility/legal migration opportunities and control-oriented commitments, and through funding (e.g. EU Trust Fund for Africa). Migration management and protection obligations are often shifted to non-EU countries through soft law instruments in or outside the EU legal framework. This allows to eschew political accountability from the European Parliament, transparency and judicial oversight from the CJEU. Emblematic of this approach is the 2016 ‘EU-Turkey Statement’ in which the EU, the Member States and Turkey explicitly mentions commitments of the EU and its Member States towards Turkey as part of an externalisation cooperation ‘bargain’. With its hybrid legal content and diffused authorship, the instrument evades the EU procedural and institutional framework.

Against this backdrop, we invite doctoral project proposals that relate to the ‘mobility of persons’ cluster of LIMES and scrutinize the shifting of EU’s borders through externalisation and its implications. Envisaged areas of scrutiny include:

  1. the impact of key constitutional principles such as fundamental rights, the rule of law, and solidarity and fair sharing responsibility on EU’s externalisation project;
  2. the role of institutional actors such as the CJEU, the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament in shaping, operationalising and controlling EU’s externalisation project;
  3. how far the institutional framework of the EU and its structural principles (especially institutional balance, competences divide) guide the role between EU and Member States and frame the EU’s action in this field
  4. the legal implications of informalisation under EU and international law, i.e. the use of non-binding agreements and instruments to operationalise externalisation obligations
  5.  the use of funding to pursue EU’s migration management objectives concentrating on issues such as its steering and solidarity potential, permissible aims, and management


  • PhD
  • Law
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2021.54


Maastricht University (UM)

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