EU migration policy and border controls: from chaotic to cohesive differentiation


The EU’s migration policy is comprised of a series of initiatives, agreements, regulations, and common standards in various fields—involving different states that participate to different degrees while attempting to address common issues. The resulting complex multilayered framework is commonly analyzed from two opposing perspectives about the continued differentiated integration of the EU and its member states. The first one focuses on issues raised by the chaotic nature of flexible arrangements or an “à la carte” integration in the field of migration. From this perspective, differentiated integration is symptomatic of an existential crisis fueled by EU states unwilling to move toward an “ever closer union.” The second perspective, in contrast, refers to differentiation in migration policy as the inevitable model of differentiated integration in other policy areas—based on the revival of coalition building as a tool of governance in a multispeed Europe. From this perspective, differentiated integration is legitimized as the most effective remedy to prevent the risk of disintegration. The article provides a critical evaluation of differentiated integration in order to analyze the implications of the still unfolding migration crisis. Its aim is to identify a more feasible—and ideally more ethical—institutional system of “cohesive differentiation.”

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Correspondence to Ariane Chebel d’Appollonia.

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Chebel d’Appollonia, A. EU migration policy and border controls: from chaotic to cohesive differentiation. Comp Eur Polit 17, 192–208 (2019).

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  • Migration
  • Border controls
  • Cohesive differentiation
  • Schengen
  • Dublin regulations
  • Asylum crisis