Framing the Matter Differently: The Political Dynamics of European Union Labour Migration Policymaking

Menz, Georg. 2015. Framing the Matter Differently: The Political Dynamics of European Union Labour Migration Policymaking. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 28(4), pp. 554-570. ISSN 0955-7571 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Most of the scholarly literature on European Union immigration policymaking has emphasized the predominance of governmental actors. The major changes entailed in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, however, imply a significant increase in supranationalism and necessitate rethinking earlier conclusions. Exploring the concomitant rise of policy entrepreneurship traits in the actions taken by the European Commission, this article emphasizes the role of discourse structuration in managing policymaking in a contested and controversial policy domain. The Commission is thus gaining more influence and importance, partially facilitated by institutional changes in the Lisbon Treaty, but mainly due to astute policy entrepreneurship in facilitating consensus. Framing problems in a fashion that maximizes potential agreement by member state governments facilitates political agreement regarding potentially divisive policy proposals. Discursive elements are created and circulated that are designed to appeal, render political implementation at the national level unproblematic and, in some cases, are deliberately bipartisan in nature. Thus, great rhetorical emphasis is placed on linking policy with competitiveness, economic growth and the Europe 2020 agenda to appeal to centre-right concerns, but in the case of temporary migration links are also constructed to centre-left issues, including enhancing migrant rights, avoiding exploitation and creating benefits for sending countries. Empirically, the article focuses on the politics surrounding the genesis of the directive on highly qualified migrant workers (the so-called Blue Card) and the migrant seasonal workers directive.

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immigration, European Union

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16 April 2015Published
20 August 2014Accepted
9 December 2013Submitted

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Date Deposited:

13 Sep 2016 10:54

Last Modified:

05 Nov 2018 16:32

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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