Building Walls and Breaking Laws: An Analysis of the European Union's Failure to Address the Migrant Crisis Public Deposited

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  • February 26, 2019
  • Barkley, Allyson
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Global Studies
  • The European Union has a short, yet complicated history in which it has faced a number of diverse crises and conflicts, not the least of which is the refugee and migrant crisis that began in 2014. While the EU managed to unite and address crises past, it has failed to do so during this crisis. Not only are the states overwhelmed by the high number of arrivals and asylum applications, but several have actually gone against EU regulation and refused their assigned resettlement quotas, built walls, or enforced border controls. What is particular about the migrant crisis that has rendered the Union unable to address the situation, and what does this reveal about the deeper structural issues within the EU as an institution? I pose a three step answer to this question. First, the EU did not have mechanisms fit to handle the influx of migrants, and has failed to adapt appropriate mechanisms in a reasonable amount of time. Second, I argue that the failed response is in large part due to the historical deficiency of attention given to the laws, policies, and practices in the fields of foreign affairs, security and defense, and immigration and asylum at the supranational level. Lastly, the lack of attention is the result of an undefined power structure in those policy areas and a vague institutional identity. This conflict creates an environment unfit for developing policy to which states will agree and follow obediently and results in ineffective solutions or no solutions at all. Ultimately, I recommend that the EU and its institutions work to define their goals and practices, and enforce stricter consequences for noncompliant member states.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Steiner, Niklaus
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • Global Studies
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018
  • English

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