How to reconcile the EU border paradox? The concurrence of refugee reception and deterrence

4 / 2015
Giacomo Orsini

The refugee crisis that unfolded in Europe in the summer of 2015 questions the effectiveness of European border and refugee policies. The breakdown of the Dublin and Schengen rules due to chaotic situations at the borders in the Balkans marks a critical juncture for the EU. We consider this breakdown as a consequence of a long-lasting co-operation crisis among EU Member States. The most recent Council decision responds to this co-operation crisis (Council Decision 12098/15). This Policy Brief analyses EU policy and politics and argues that plans for refugee relocation and reception centres as well as the use of qualified majority voting in the Council can unfold a dynamic that helps to solve the co-operation crisis. However, underlying the problems of co-operation and effectiveness is the EU’s border paradox: while EU border policy works towards refugee deterrence, EU asylum policy aims at refugee protection. The EU’s approach in regulating borders and asylum can be understood in terms of ‘organised hypocrisy’ (Brunsson, 1993). Reconciling the paradox calls for overcoming such hypocrisy.