Does crisis matter for European migration governance? A Framework Paper
MAGYC Working Paper
The Migration Governance and Asylum Crises project
MAGYC Working Paper
European migration governance, migration crisis
This analytical framework aims to study the ways in which European migration governance has been shaped by a ‘crisis’ discourse. The European Union witnessed an exponential increase in asylum claims in 2015 – registering over 1.2 million, more than double from the previous year. This upsurge was commonly categorised by political actors as a “migration crisis”, embedding what is considered to be an appropriate response in terms of governing solutions. Work Package 3 in this project and a rich literature explore the ways in which political and policy actors have constructed a crisis discourse on migration. Much less is known about the ways in which this crisis discourse has reconfigured European migration governance. To what extent has crisis discourse led to the mobilisation of new actors and new forms of cooperation? The field for our study comprises three cases of migration governance (economic, bureaucratic and political) expressive of the way in which crisis interacts with a migration assemblage. The case of the economic rationality is premised on the need to bolster development aid to dissuade migrants from leaving. Here we focus on the implementation of the EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, involving German, French and Spanish national development aid agencies, security professionals, funding mechanisms, training manuals, and local infrastructure; second, the bureaucratic rationality calls for governing interventions to apply law and order, to identify legal from illegal migrants and to punish smugglers. We focus on the case of search and rescue in the Mediterranean. The assemblage constituents involve the EU border agency Frontex, NGOs, Libyan lifeguards, smugglers, drones, boats, the sea, stormy weather and migrant bodies (both dead and alive); lastly, the political rationality is centred on the premise that national sovereignty must be protected by limiting multilateral cooperation. Here we focus on the EU relocation and disembarkation mechanisms. On the face of it these rationalities pursue different solutions – developmental, humanitarian and security, and include diverse actors and practices – yet we posit that these rationalities and their component parts (both human and nonhuman) are constitutive of a migration assemblage which is both revealed and reconfigured by the “migration crisis”.