Fabrizio Tassinari (Danish Institute of International Studies)
Even before the current refugee crisis, immigration policy had been one of the most complicated, most politicized and least integrated policies in the European Union. Asylum policy is a sensitive topic for the Member States and its functioning and implementation is highly dependent on the latter’s will. Therefore, it often happens that the outcome of negotiations is a sort of compromise between the proposals of the EU and those put forward by the Member States. Crises are therefore often solved in a very inefficient way, which only leads to more problems. This does not concern only asylum policy but also the overall character of security that is thus heavily influenced by individual states. But which countries have most influenced European security through their policies?
The first good example is Italy under Mr Berlusconi‘s government. The Italian-Libyan relations have always been key for the European migration policy. Already back in 2008, the two countries signed an agreement to deport immigrants back to Libya’s shores. The change occurred after the departure of Berlusconi when the Mare Nostrum naval operation was launched.
Germany is yet another example of a country having a national impact on EU policy. Even before the current refugee crisis, Germany had received more asylum applications than any other EU country. Under Chancellor Merkel, Germany opened itself to refugees but this was not without problems. In September last year, when the number of refugees reached 1.2 million, Germany resorted to border controls. Later in October, Chancellor Angela Merkel launched negotiations with Ankara on cooperation designed to tackle the refugee crisis. In the same year, Mrs Merkel announced a new plan to tackle the crisis with the name “We can handle it.”
The Union certainly responds to the attitudes and actions of its members. Despite all the problems, it is still failing to reform the outdated Dublin system, which only further complicates the already tense political situation. The relocation mechanism was supposed to bring about a change aiming to relieve overloaded Greece and Italy. The system is so inefficient that the redistribution of all refugees would not come earlier than in 2101. The new global EU strategy should be another change that could help unify their different approaches to safety. However, there will always be EU members at the beginning of every effort to deal with the migration crisis, without whose consent a radical change cannot occur.
(The study can be downloaded here:http://www.diis.dk/en/research/the-disintegration-of-european-security)