In this blog post, authors argue that a reset of the European Union migration policy is unlikely to occur under the new Commission. Instead, as migration politics is now driven by politicisation of migration as a European concern, it is probable that we will see more horizontal ‘Europeanisation’ of like-minded governments, and a continued and intensified quest for external arrangements with countries and regions outside of Europe to find policy solutions to immigration.
Changes in leadership tend to raise expectations about policy change. So, unsurprisingly, the new European Commission under President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has been confronted with expectations for a reset of the European Union’s approach to migration, too. Despite such expectations, substantial and radical change is unlikely to occur.
A stable policy core
The policy core in the field of migration, by which we mean the underlying priorities and who defines them, have remained relatively stable for decades now. Policy changes in the field of migration and asylum, the most developed areas of EU migration policies, have been consistent so far with the ‘policy core’ established in the 1990s and 2000s, rather than being disruptive of its rationale. Policy priorities identified in those decades were informed by the idea that there are large scale and potentially uncontrollable migration flows, and that the EU needs to secure its borders. Whether accurate or not, this understanding has had—and will continue to have—powerful effects. EU actions on asylum and irregular migration have been focused to a great extent on stemming such flows. Moreover, the underlying dynamic that has shaped contemporary migration politics and policy-making, namely the politicisation of migration, is unlikely to dissipate.