In 2015, increased refugee movements to Europe led to a sense of crisis and triggered a range of measures taken at the EU level to address the situation. The crisis -considered by many commentators as a ‘policy’ crisis or a crisis of solidarity- has exposed several structural shortcomings of the so‐called Common European Asylum System (CEAS). However, in the aftermath of “2015”, the EU has not succeeded in addressing these shortcomings and has resorted to only limited reforms of the CEAS. Among others, the EU has adopted ad hoc measures for internal relocation of asylum‐seekers based on the ‘hotspot approach’, while intensifying an already existing policy process, namely the externalization of asylum and migration control to third countries. These measures have been heavily criticized for their implications for refugee rights and the institution of asylum more broadly.
In my talk, I will draw parallels between externalization practices (e.g. EU cooperation with Turkey and Libya) and the intra-‐EU cooperation framework on asylum. By analyzing these seemingly distinct areas of EU policy in their mutual relation, I seek to offer a better understanding of the assumptions underpinning European asylum policy since the 1990s and the way these assumptions are reflected in the aforementioned measures. The main proposition is that refugees have been framed as threat to the well‐functioning of the single market and, as such, they have been excluded from the free movement project. This rationale has shaped Europe’s involvement in refugee law, in such a way as to transform the CEAS from a regional regime of international protection to a system of deterrence and control. The same logic has also informed the meaning and function of the EU principle of solidarity in times of crisis with a bearing on the way asylum responsibilities are distributed within the EU and between the EU and third countries.