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The 'soft' Europeanisation of migration policy: European integration and domestic policy change

By Eiko R. Thielemann


In the early 1990s, the relative stability that had characterised Europe's post-war asylum regime gave way to radical and widespread policy change. In order to explain how such substantive change was possible, in a policy area in which policy makers have traditionally faced strong constraints from both domestic and international sources, the paper uses insights from new institutionalism which remind us of the ways in which institutions can constrain and enable policy makers. This paper seeks to develop a conceptual framework which will help to explain how European integration (i.e. the development of institutions at the EU level) can selectively legitimate actors, ideas and discourses, and in doing so facilitate domestic policy change. The paper analyses three mechanisms—two level games, policy transfer, and social learning—through which these processes of legitimisation take place. In the case of asylum policy, empirical evidence suggests that instead of adding to the international and domestic constraints that national policy-makers have traditionally been faced with in this area of policy making, European integration has, in fact, helped policy-makers to partially overcome such constraints. In doing so, European initiatives have threatened to undermine refugee protection in Europe

Topics: JN Political institutions (Europe)
Year: 2001
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Provided by: LSE Research Online
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