Challenges to a comprehensive EU migration and asylum policy

Research reports and studies
December 2015
Labelled as Europe’s biggest challenge, the Syrian refugee crisis has revealed severe gaps in Europe’s response to collective problems. Member States struggle to cope with the influx and disagree on the best way to resettle hundreds of thousands of uprooted people. The issue has to be dealt with collectively at the European level and the European Union (EU) is expected to help resolve the migration challenges faced by its Member States.

But the EU has been criticised for a lack of leadership and coherent and coordinated policy-making in the face of the crisis, and for poorly designed response mechanisms. These have all severely constrained timely solutions and effective implementation.

This paper sets out three fundamental structural reasons for the failure to deliver a comprehensive and effective EU approach to the refugee crisis. It unpacks the complex decision-making processes on EU migration and asylum policy and highlights the barriers. It traces the evolution of EU migration and asylum policy, the complex system of competences that underpin decision-making, conflicting interests and approaches, and today’s financial arrangements, to set out where the constraints lie.

Short-term approaches have failed to address the long-term nature of the problem. This paper concludes with recommendations to overcome some of the key constraints.