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Europeanisation of national migration policy - a study on changes in governing in Europe

The regulation competences over migration policy issues at national level in the EU member states are limited due to the transnational dimension of migration policy and due to the existing interconnections between the EU member states. To extend the scope of action at national level a co-operation in migration policy issues is urgently required under the conditions of a single market. The relevance of sovereignty in the policy area of migration determines the interest of the nation states in a co-operation which does not restrict too strongly their autonomy to act.

As a result of the policy area of migration being incorporated in the European integration process, however, a development has been started which makes this policy area seem to be less and less subject to the exclusive control of the nation state. However, national migration policy is influenced from the European level less by legal obligations, and more by political agreements and considerations of practicability.

The following aspects of the Europeanisation process in the policy area of migration have been identified: the contractual institutionalisation at European level, the involvement in the European integration process, the increased use of institutions at European level to tackle migration-policy tasks, the increasingly institutionalised transnational administrative co-operation and the integration of the national asylum and migration system in the European multi-level system.

One can see a gradual evolution of the relationship between national sovereignty and integration in the European level of action. The driving force in the co-operation is the exchange of information and experience and the transnational administrative co-operation. The principle of solidarity and an inherently existing need for reforms can be identified as components of this developing momentum. The emergence of a European migration policy administration, increasing continuity of the processes and the legalisation of the co-operation contribute to stabilising and strengthening this co-operation. The Europeanisation process which is examined here is founded on the continuous process of interaction between the European and national levels. In the policy area of migration the political scope of action is therefore being increasingly extended, reaching beyond the national borders to the European level.

In short: transnational social processes such as migration movements confront the closely interconnected EU member states with challenges concerning their ability to solve problems. Dealing with these challenges leads to changes in governing even in core areas of national sovereignty.

With regard to the changes in the way of governing that can be observed, even in core areas of national sovereignty, the question of democracy is a very urgent one. Apart from fundamental considerations regarding the legitimation power of the European Parliament, the still weakly formed rights of the European Parliament in this area of policy speak against the possibility of a democratic legitimation using this method. A legitimation of the Europeanisation process solely via the assessment of the results obtained in this way seems to be anti-democratic because this way the power of definition for highly political questions would ultimately be in the hands of experts. The only possibility that remains for the time being is therefore the democratic legitimisation of the Europeanisation process of national migration policy by accompanying supervision of the national parliaments.

Funding: Stiftung Bevölkerung, Migration und Umwelt
Completed: 30.9.1999
Researcher: Verónica Tomei

Publication: Forum Migration 6. Verónica Tomei: Europäisierung nationaler Migrationspolitik. Eine Studie zur Veränderung von Regieren in Europa. Lucius & Lucius, Stuttgart 2001

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