Adjudicating Labor Mobility under France's Agreements on the Joint Management of Migration Flows: How Courts Politicize Bilateral Migration Diplomacy
France’s agreements on the joint management of migration flows (AJMs) figure centrally within studies of bilateral migration agreements. With their origins in friendship and navigation treaties of the late 19th century, the AJMs are successors to the postcolonial, circular mobility conventions of the 1960s, and are uniquely positioned for periodizing the evolution of bilaterally negotiated labor mobilities. Nonetheless, due to the European Union’s reluctance to embrace mass regularization and the EU Member States’ legislative powers over labor markets, they have time and again scotched France’s ambition to leverage preferential labor market entries in exchange for more cooperation over irregular migration. Through documents and statistical data analysis, this Article studies the case of Senegal’s negotiation of additional pathways to France for its lower-skilled workers. At the center is France’s administrative court of appeals, which has confirmed the broad margin of discretion over Art. 42 in the AJM between France and Senegal. This jurisprudence has decoupled the automatic linkage between a job listed under duress in France under the Annex to the AJM and the entitlement to exceptional admission. We argue that France’s courts have removed a privilege of Senegalese workers, which has re-politicized France’s migration diplomacy with Senegal. At the same time, retention of the prefectorial discretionary power has levelled the playing field among West and North African countries that have concluded similar bilateral agreements with France. This Article adds to the research on bilateral migration agreements by proposing a multilevel legal analysis, which studies AJMs in the context of France’s common law, EU labor and return directives, and the multilateral of WTO/GATS liberalization.