Within the areas of immigration, asylum and external border control, the EU and its member states have often been caught between two simultaneously unfolding processes – protecting human rights and tightening up immigration laws and external border controls. One of the areas increasingly subject to criticism in the human rights area is that of EU cooperation in the management of its external borders. Even though it is part of a more general trend towards international cooperation in migration control, the mutual assistance in this sphere between EU member states is remarkable in its extent and institutionalisation.