Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
This paper contributes to the debate on the development of the future common European Union Policy on Asylum and Immigration. It seeks to explain the rationale behind the evolution of the Union's policy outlook on asylum and immigration. It then analyses the most recent Union-wide policy tools available to address asylum and migration issues, arguing that common European asylum policies thus far have focused on containment of migration flows seen as a threat to the European internal security regime and in response to perceived populist pressures. The return and readmission clauses now being implemented, in agreements with countries outside of the Union, serve to illustrate this point, as does the political willingness to extra-territorialize asylum processing. However, the focus on eliminating the root causes of migration flows is a relatively new paradigm, developed since the 1999 Tampere European Council. Although off to a slow start, the European Union Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument may become an institutional outlet to create a more normative framework for asylum and migration. The success of such a framework is contingent upon breaking with earlier conceptualizations of “asylum” as a security threat. Implicit in such a framework is the need to retain a clear distinction between asylum- and labour-related migration. Partnerships must also be granted a budget sufficient for their establishment in real terms with countries of origin and transit. Lastly, there must be changes in modes of governance, as well as institutional reform, if efforts to elaborate a strategy on asylum and migration are to be executed successfully. Curiously, while the proposed Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe sought to abolish the pillar structure put in place by the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, it would have retained the institutional inhibitions imposed by long-existing tensions between national and community administrations and the “inter-pillar” battles between the foreign policy, humanitarian and development dimensions of the EU apparatus. The current political debate about moving Europe “closer to its people”, following the rejection of the proposed Constitution at national referenda in France and the Netherlands, appears unlikely to solve any of these tensions.
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