Asylum and Immigration in an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice.

 EU policy and the logic of securitization.

Author: Ludvig Norman

The aim of the essay is to show how the issues of asylum and immigration have been formulated as security issues in EU policy by applying a discursive approach to policy analysis and securitization, analyzing selected policy texts produced by the European Commission and the Council for Justice and Home Affairs from 1999 to 2006. The positioning of these issues in the policy domain of Freedom, Security and Justice has facilitated a linkage between these issues and issues like terrorism and organised crime and has enabled a formulation of asylum and immigration according to a logic of securitization. The analysis of policy texts aims at investigating how linkages between issues are represented, how these linkages shape issues, and how the policy, in formulating threats and responses, also represent the EU itself in very specific ways. Policy from this perspective is not the rational answer to an unambiguous reality but rather, highly implicated in its production. An important part of this analysis is drawing out the implications of the policy, in terms of further policy development, as well as how the policy implicates particular ways of dealing with those represented as for instance illegal immigrants or illegitimate asylum seekers.



The European Union, asylum and immigration

This essay focuses on the EU policy concerning immigration and asylum. In the context of the policy domain of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) these issues have, after the establishment of the Amsterdam Treaty and the subsequently formulated Tampere declarations in October 1999, become central concerns in EU policy making. The urgent need to deal with it is recurrently emphasized in policy texts produced by various institutions of the EU. 


The immigration and asylum policy of the EU has received serious criticisms from academic writers as well as from NGOs such as the IOM, and the UNHCR (Levy, 1999: 45). Much of this criticism takes issue with what is perceived as a policy with a too heavy emphasis on restrictive measures as well as taking too little consideration to the actual needs of refugees as well as victims of trafficking (Goodey, 2004; IOM, 2001:29). EU relations with the third countries have also been shaped by these issues as bilateral or multilateral agreements concerning migration almost exclusively focuses on containment and control (Guiraudon in Guiraudon et al, 2001:31). As van Oudenaren has noted, the diplomacy of the EU has at times seemed almost obsessed with negotiating re-admission agreements with third countries (van Oudenaren, 2005:252). Indeed, the need to (re)asses the relations with third countries depending on their level of cooperation in such matters is recurrently emphasized in EU policy texts. Another concern put forward has been the conflation in practice of the concepts of immigration and asylum, which is regarded as a threat to the asylum system as a whole, since it is seen as ridding the concept of asylum of its separate stance, making it harder for asylum seekers to get their applications tested fairly. 


The aim of this essay is to show how this particular policy is built around representations of asylum and immigration as a security issue and how the way that these issues are placed in the larger policy field of the AFSJ act to shape them in particular ways. However, the aim of this essay is not to present rational arguments in an effort to negate those which construct immigration as a threat to the internal security of European societies. As Honig (1999:185 in Campbell et al) points out, even if it could be verified once and for all, through an analysis of costs and benefits that immigrants actually contribute more to their host societies than they take out, the issue of immigration would still not be settled. In parallel Boswell has stated that the symbolic use of these issues in exploiting anxieties of security and identity in different European states is in large parts unrelated to migration flows as such (Boswell, 2003:61).  The specific formulation of the issues of asylum and immigration in terms of security awards this policy with its own logic, in which threats are defined along with the ways in which these threats are to be met. This definitional process also includes the representation and positioning of the EU itself, as the policy represents the EU and its citizens in very specific ways, implicating particular understandings of what this community is and what it is not.