Monday, June 2, 2014

Future EU policy development on immigration and asylum: Understanding the challenge

Against the backdrop of recent European Parliament elections that handed significant gains to eurosceptic, protest, and anti-immigration political parties from the United Kingdom Independence Party and Front National in France to Hungary's Jobbik, the European Council in June must articulate a set of long-term objectives and priorities for action on EU immigration and asylum policy. As Europe—and Brussels—absorb these seismic election results, the European Council also confronts the reality that the recent experience of policy promulgation has been difficult, and enthusiasm for new policy is largely absent. Indeed, European leaders such as British Prime Minister David Cameron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte are interpreting last week’s election results as a sign that the European Union should do less, not more.

A new Migration Policy Institute Europe brief, Future EU policy development on immigration and asylum: Understanding the challenge, highlights the challenges that the European Council faces in the immigration and asylum policy realm, and puts forward a set of broad considerations for post-Stockholm Programme policy development. The brief, by MPI Europe Director Elizabeth Collett, assesses the lessons learned from the prior five-year JHA programmes—Tampere, the Hague, and Stockholm—that gave rise to everything from the Schengen system and the Common European Asylum System to the integrated management of external EU borders. It also traces the economic, political, and geopolitical challenges that have buffeted Europe and affected the migration and asylum agendas, as well as those looming ahead. 'Few areas of EU policy can fit the frameworks set out by EU treaties, the needs of Member States, and the social, economic, and geographical realities of global mobility', Collett writes. 'This leaves national and European leaders in a quandary: whether to work small within these parameters or think big to allow new ideas and initiatives to broaden these parameters'.

The brief is the first of three that examine the European Union's steps to develop a new five-year programme for Justice and Home Affairs in the migration and asylum areas. A second brief will outline a new method of developing EU policy, and the third will set out a number of policy proposals that could point the way toward more cooperative policy development than has been seen so far within and between EU institutions.


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