A common European asylum system?

How variation in Member States’ administrative capacity undermines EU asylum harmonisation

Authored by: Natascha Zaun

The Routledge Handbook of the Politics of Migration in Europe

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138201187
eBook ISBN: 9781315512853
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter gives an overview over the research on EU asylum policy harmonisation and explains why attempts to harmonise EU asylum policies to date have had little success in practice. It argues that only a group of Member States, the so-called strong regulators, has been effective in shaping EU asylum policies. These states include countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden and have a long regulatory tradition in asylum policies as well as effectively working administrations that allow them to build credible expertise and strong positions for the negotiations. Weak regulators such as Italy and Greece, on the other hand, do not have any of these resources and hence remain rather passive in the negotiations. They subsequently face high levels of misfit between EU and domestic policies. Given their low administrative capacity, these states are unable to implement EU asylum policies.

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