Fence-sitters no more: Southern and Central Eastern European Member States’ role in the deadlock of the CEAS reform

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This article explains recent changes in the negotiation dynamics concerning EU asylum policies, the policy failure in the Common European Asylum System and the deadlock in its post-2016 reform. Combining the Core State Power framework with the literature on punctuated equilibria and bounded rationality, it argues that EU asylum policies have important redistributive implications. In earlier phases, these were concealed by a regulatory policymaking approach which depoliticized EU legislation in that area. The 2015 asylum crisis demonstrated that this approach failed to produce the expected integration and entailed an even unfairer distribution of asylum-seekers, hence leading to information updating among Member States. Together with the ascent of right-wing populism in many Member States, this has fundamentally changed the negotiation dynamics from a situation with a few dominant Member States to a highly politicized environment in which previously passive Member States acted either as promoters or as blockers, thus producing deadlock.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)196-217
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 02.2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; Narodowe Centrum Nauki: [Grant Number 2018/30/M/HS5/00296]. The author would like to thank Henning Deters, Christian Freudlsperger, Adina Maricut-Akbik, Christof Roos, Waltraud Schelkle and the participants of the workshop ‘Interinstitutional Power Dynamics in the European Decision-Making Process: An Analysis of the Impact of Rule Change on Policy Outputs’ at the 2020 ECPR Joint Sessions for their valuable feedback on an earlier version of this paper. The author would, moreover, like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • Asylum, Central Eastern Europe, core state powers, punctuated equilibrium, regulatory State, Southern Europe
  • Politics