Handbook of European Policies
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Handbook of European Policies

Interpretive Approaches to the EU

Edited by Hubert Heinelt and Sybille Münch

This definitive Handbook addresses the current lack of research into European policymaking and development using an interpretive perspective. Questioning areas that mainstream approaches tend to neglect, contributors target the ways in which ideas, arguments and discourses shape policies in the institutional context of the EU.
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Chapter 17: EU migration and asylum policies

Sybille Münch


The study of EU asylum and migration policies is a latecomer to interpretive approaches. With immigration as one of the core policy areas where states exercise sovereignty, migration policy was long characterized by intergovernmental policymaking procedures. Since the start of European integration, there has been a sharp contrast between the liberal regime of free movement or ‘mobility’ and the neglect of common migration policies with regard to third country nationals. The major turning point came only with the communitarization of EU asylum and migration policies since the Treaty of Amsterdam. This chapter starts by briefly introducing the status quo and the development of a European governance structure in the field, gives a short overview of how the mainstream has analysed EU migration policies, before presenting more recent research that employs a post-positivist research agenda. Drawing from this review, the main part discusses different narratives and frames that are central to an interpretive analysis of EU migration policymaking.

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