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Norms Matter! The Role of International Norms in EU Policies on Asylum and Immigration

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AbstractThis Article investigates how international norms impact on eu asylum and immigration policy. To this end we scrutinize the assumption that the robustness of international norms indicates the quality of eu integration. Drawing on international norms literature we argue that four characters define an international norms’ robustness: specificity in definition, binding force, coherence with domestic law and international law, and concordant understanding among actors. Our analysis covers three eu policy areas, asylum policy, family reunification policy, and labour migration policy. Across the three areas international norms had varying degrees of robustness at the time of eu negotiations. The findings show that presence and robustness of international norms on asylum or immigration regulation are reflected in eu legislation. Given that there are more robust norms available on questions of status than on reception conditions or asylum procedures, the qualification directive was much easier to agree on than the reception conditions or the asylum procedures directive which were much more characterized by hard bargaining. The international norm, right to family life, was sufficiently robust and was codified in eu law. However, both the international norm and the eu law do not provide for clear admission criteria. On labour migration, robust international norms with regard to equality provisions for migrant workers are mirrored in eu legislation on residence rights of migrants. With regard to conditions of admission, the absence of international norms indicates little to no eu legislation.

Affiliations: 1: Collaborative Research Centre 597 ‘Transformations of the State’, University of BremenLinzer Strasse 9a, 28359 BremenGermany


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