The promise of the principal-agent approach for studying EU migration policy: The case of external migration control

Menz, Georg. 2014. The promise of the principal-agent approach for studying EU migration policy: The case of external migration control. Comparative European Politics, 13(3), pp. 307-324. ISSN 1472-4790 [Article]

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The creation of European Union (EU) common asylum and migration policy has entailed involving governments from neighbouring countries in control and detention functions. Much of the existing literature treats this phenomenon as a mere extension of the more general embrace of communitization. Such transfer of sovereignty in a highly politicized policy domain is remarkable, yet, as is demonstrated, cannot be understood through the lens of the two major schools of European integration studies. This article adopts the prism of the principal-agent approach to study the implications and dynamics of the extension of immigration control policy beyond the geographical remit of Europe. However, there is also evidence of principal slippage. Individual countries, frustrated with what they perceive as principal drift and slow and cumbersome communal action, have established bilateral relations with countries in the periphery of Europe to help detain immigration flows above and beyond the communal efforts. The externalization of migration control is thus best understood as a patchwork of bilateral government initiatives and EU endeavours. Adopting the principal-agent approach provides superior insights than existing accounts and can make sense of the ongoing transformative policy developments.

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Reproduced with permission.


EU immigration, asylum policy, principal, agent, externalization

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3 February 2014Published

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13 Nov 2018 16:28

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29 Apr 2020 16:56


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