The Impact of European Union Asylum Policy on Domestic Asylum Policy in Germany and Britain: 1990-2007

Shisheva, Mariya (2013) The Impact of European Union Asylum Policy on Domestic Asylum Policy in Germany and Britain: 1990-2007. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


Over the past two decades, the European Union has taken important steps towards the establishment of a common European asylum policy. The question of the impact of this cooperation on domestic asylum policy has so far received surprisingly little attention. Most explanations have focused on how an agreement on restrictive policies was achieved at EU level, and assumed a relatively unproblematic implementation of these measures domestically. More recently, some scholars have contested these explanations by emphasizing the rights-enhancing effects of recent EU asylum policy legislation. This thesis argues that rather than focusing on the question of whether EU cooperation increases or decreases domestic asylum policy standards, we should focus on explaining how EU asylum policy affects domestic asylum policy. The question can only be addressed satisfactorily if the inter-related processes of arriving at these policies at EU level and implementing them domestically are taken into account. The theoretical account proposed here conceives of preferences as the crucial variable connecting the processes of uploading and downloading. The main argument of this thesis is that governments try to project their policy preferences which reflect their desire to change or retain domestic status quo and to download policies in accordance with these preferences. At the EU level, governments seek to upload or support policies in line with their domestically-shaped preferences and oppose those which contradict them or at least seek flexibility allowing them to maintain existing policies. At the national level, states download EU policy selectively, in line with their domestically-shaped preferences, leading to over-implementing, under-implementing or not implementing certain provisions. In addition, the thesis locates the sources of these preferences on asylum policy in public opinion, party ideology, and the number of asylum seekers. The dissertation shows that issue salience in the media and among the general public affects the relationship between these variables. Depending on the political-institutional context, the factors identify above interact with each other, resulting in differential impact of EU asylum policy on domestic policy. The thesis distinguishes between simple and compound polities, and shows how they differ in their responsiveness to the variables identified above, in the frequency and stability of reforms, and in the way they use the EU to facilitate domestic change. It also demonstrates that in compound polities preferences are mostly influenced by party ideology while in simple ones they are more likely to reflect public opinion. In order to trace the impact of EU cooperation in asylum policy on domestic policy, this dissertation employs process tracing and a three-step analytical framework which encompasses preference formation, EU-level negotiations and implementation. Such framework allows us to answer the question of the impact of EU asylum policy on national ones without under- or overstating the role of the EU. The dissertation applies this framework to study all major EU asylum policy agreements adopted between 1990 and the completion of the first phase of the Common European Asylum System in 2007, and their impact in Germany and Britain.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:XXII
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/04 SCIENZA POLITICA
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