This project investigates the European Union’s “comprehensive approach” to asylum and migration policy after the outbreak of the refugee crisis. Following the unprecedented inflow of migrants, the EU has matched the external dimension – border protection and cooperation with third countries – with a growing concern for the internal dimension, referring in particular to legislative reforms and the appropriate balance between solidarity and responsibility.
Rather than a single entity, the EU has become increasingly divided over the implementation of the comprehensive approach. While acknowledging the need to cooperate on the European level, Member States are also driven by domestic interests in view of the increasing politicisation of immigration. Certain Member States focus on border protection, others insist on fair burden-sharing. Hence, various legal and political contexts (spheres of governance) have emerged that need to be reconciled with one another.
The research analyses how Member States move between the various spheres of governance. More specifically, it maps the instruments of the comprehensive approach and analyses their interaction. The question arises whether the increasing use of informal, flexible arrangements challenges the role of law in EU migration management. As a next step, the thesis evaluates to what extent the informal sphere of Member States should be integrated into the EU legal order, considering possible tensions between the rule of law and the legitimacy of law- and policy-making.