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The limits of communitarisation and the legacy of intergovernmentalism: EU asylum governance and the evolution of the Dublin system

Armstrong, Carolyn (2016) The limits of communitarisation and the legacy of intergovernmentalism: EU asylum governance and the evolution of the Dublin system. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Situated as the cornerstone of the Common European Asylum System, the EU’s Dublin system functions as the legal mechanism for determining Member State responsibility for the processing of asylum claims. Controversial from inception, it has been subject to extensive criticism that speaks not only to the distributional inequalities that it produces among the Member States, but also to its potentially detrimental impact on the human rights of asylum seekers. Despite these problems, however, the core features of the system as originally agreed in the 1990 Dublin Convention have remained remarkably resilient over the course of two reforms – one in 2003, and one in 2013. At the same time, the EU’s governance landscape as it pertains to asylum policy-making has undergone a marked transformation. While Dublin I was the product of intergovernmentalism, both Dublin II and Dublin III were negotiated as part of the EU acquis communitaire, the former following the partial communitarisation of asylum policy-making and the latter following its full communitarisation. Though the specific changes to the institutional features of policymaking that this transition has entailed have been both theoretically expected and empirically proven to have a positive effect on EU policy output, the overall stability of the Dublin system in the face of these changes leaves it unclear as to what extent the ‘promise of communitarisation’ has been delivered in this particular case. How then do we explain the perseverance of a system that has not only failed to provide adequate standards of protection to those seeking it within EU borders, but which has also continually disadvantaged some of the very Member States party to its terms? And what impact, if any, has the communitarisation of asylum policy-making had on the attempts at its reform? This research traces the evolution of the Dublin system from its initial formation through to its current state, by analysing the negotiations that produced each of the three Dublin agreements in order to explain both the system’s emergence and its on-going stability. Using a rational choice institutionalist framework, it finds that the Dublin system’s endurance can ultimately be credited to the deliberate choices that have been made by both the Member States and the EU’s supranational institutions in pursuit of their preferences (bolstered or weakened by their relative strength of position) in the context of the (either empowering or constraining) institutional settings within which the reform negotiations took place.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Carolyn Elizabeth Armstrong
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Thielemann, Eiko

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