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Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Christine Neuhold
Chapter 27: Informal European Asylum Governance in an International Context
Maarten Vink and Claudia Engelmann INTRODUCTION Informal governance processes in asylum policy, particular in a European context, have frequently been attributed importance, yet received little systematic study so far. This chapter aims at providing a first analysis of informal asylum governance, with a particular focus on formal and informal governance structures in the evolving European asylum system. The analysis is embedded in the wider framework of international asylum governance. Asylum policy is a politically and normatively sensitive policy field that highlights particularly well the tensions between supranationalism and the prevalence of sovereignty. On the one hand, the movement and recognition of refugees has an undeniable cross-border character, determined by increasing interdependence of the nation-states. Hence there is a rationale for states to cooperate and develop common policies, especially at a regional level. Asylum policy is further closely linked to distributional questions, as some countries have to deal with a significantly higher number of asylum-seekers than others. On the other hand, asylum touches upon the very heart of state sovereignty because it deals with the question who can enter the country, and remain there, and who cannot. Thus there is a great diversity in national asylum policies across the globe. These differences relate to, inter alia, the definition of a refugee, procedures for grating and refusing asylum and the rights granted to asylum-seekers. There have been several efforts at the European level to harmonize asylum policies across EU member states. While increasing policy competence by successive treaty changes have partly formalized...
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