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Secondly, due to the new voting system introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, the institutional power of the Visegrad countries diminished as they remained unable to form a blocking minority.
From this perspective, migration was basically a tool to increase the leverage of the Visegrad countries which caused political tensions. According to the neorealist argument, the distribution of power determines international relations, thus conflict is caused by changes in the balance between states. The V4 lacks the material resources to question the leadership of Germany, France or the United Kingdom, but in the framework of the migration crisis, their bargaining power is much higher than usual.
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Due to the routes of the movement of people, the four central European countries are among the strongest stakeholders in the management of the crisis. All in all, geopolitics has a high explanatory value when it comes to the interpretation of Visegrad migration policy. First of all, disposing over huge external land borders on the edge of the Schengen zone, the four central European countries — primarily Poland and Hungary — consider migration solely as a security threat primarily in connection with border security.
In contrast, the states in the core region of Europe have more differentiated views of migration: as destination countries they consider the movement of labour force an advantageous phenomenon. That is why the level of securitisation is much lower. Second, the crisis of became a field of the internal struggle of the different European geopolitical blocs.
From this narrative perspective, migration was only a tool and not the aim of the political debates inside Europe. Neoliberals argue that, on the one hand, states represent a subset of domestic society whose interests are taken into account by state officials, who, on the other hand, define state preferences and act according to these preferences in world politics.
According to the party competition theory of Abou-Chadi regarding niche party effects on mainstream parties, there is a connection between the emergence of niche parties and the politicisation of immigration by mainstream parties. Green parties, ethnic regionalists and radical rights parties are also commonly referred to as niche parties.
Party competition theories suggest that parties do not only have different policy positions, they also prioritise different issues in order to become the owner of a particular issue issue ownership. A party owns an issue if voters consider the given party the most competent and effective problem-solving actor on the issue. Usually, immigration is not necessarily and exclusively connected by voters to only one party. Abou-Chadi, However, before the refugee crisis, immigration was usually addressed by radical right parties who could thrive in the political environment of the European Union by advocating issues like immigration, national sovereignty, international terrorism and globalisation after the financial crisis Kallis, In the wake of the current crisis, immigration became a top priority issue.
As radical right parties increased their support among voters, party competition increased as well.
The Fundaments of the EU’s External Migration Policy
In such a way, mainstream parties tend to politicise immigration, elevate it into their own political agenda and adopt more restrictive immigration policies to counter the possible electoral loss they might suffer. This strategy is called the accommodative or adversarial strategy, which is based on the spatial logic of party competition and is used to trigger partisan realignment Abou-Chadi, By examining the results of the latest outcome of the elections in the V4 countries and comparing them to the previous elections in the given countries, it is striking that radical right-wing parties became stronger by acquiring higher percentages of support in the general elections.
Jobbik, the Movement for a Better Hungary managed to increase their electoral support from In Poland, a delicate situation emerged as the strongest voice of anti-immigration policies, the Law and Justice Party, won the elections in and overtook the previous ruling party, the Civic Platform. For example, ownership of the media and nationalism, which has also been addressed by PiS since Kukiz 15 gained 8.
These tendencies suggest that niche parties have indeed increased party competition and have set the focus on issue ownership. Contrary to the neorealist narrative, the neoliberal school interprets V4 migration policy in the framework of domestic political competition, not of geopolitical struggles. Governing parties in central Europe tried to prevent radical right-wing parties from owning the issue of migration and therefore built up their own strategy against the mass movement of people. In order to interpret V4 migration policy, constructivism is a useful tool to trace back the causes of the difference between V4 migration policy and that of the rest of the West.
One possible interpretation emerged which explains policy variation with social norms that are generally present in post-communist central Europe.
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According to this narrative, the lack of historical experience with migration and the socialist past made the societies of the Visegrad region more hostile to foreigners, which is also reflected at foreign policy level. However, data does not support the conception of central Europe as a xenophobic bloc. Quantitatively, norms related to migration and foreigners are constantly changing in European societies, and there are huge differences in this regard inside the V4 too.
This notion was supported by other analyses as well Card et al, The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland belong to the third group. The theory suggests that in these ethnically homogeneous countries party competition is not influenced by ethnic minority topics. The established patterns alone do not clarify why some countries are more restrictive than others Rovny, From this point of view, a government of left or right-wing conservatives tend to produce negative rhetoric towards migration in the current migration crisis regardless of whether their country is on the Balkan migration route or not.
However, in the case of Bulgaria — which is on the Balkan migration route — the liberal government also has a negative stance Rovny, In countries where a federal diaspora exists, conservativism seems to cause negative positions.
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After setting up the three narratives, one is able to compare them on the basis of their explanatory value. As was stated in the first pages, our goal is to determine the reasons why the V4 developed this migration policy and why other states in the EU did not do so. While neorealists attribute the phenomenon to geopolitical exposure and intra-EU struggles, neoliberals focus on domestic party competition, and constructivists on norm distribution. Although each narrative provides useful insights on the question, the authors believe that it is the neorealist framework which has the most explanatory value.
One can explain the Visegrad migration policy without making any reference to domestic politics and social values without any questions left unanswered. Introducing domestic politics, the neoliberal narrative seems adequate. Nonetheless, it is not able to explain why central European countries were the ones to make the anti-migration alliance. The migration crisis created an international environment in which all parties, especially governmental parties in CEE region, should have reacted to the issue regardless of niche party positions, since the Western Balkan route proved to be a popular migration line to the EU.
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It is also clear that niche parties started to gain more popularity in other countries inside the EU. Despite the increase of party competition, government reactions did not always shift to anti-immigration sentiments. Lastly, the constructivist narrative has the severe limitation that without proper research, one can hardly establish a causal relationship between social norms and policy outcomes. Methodologically, we can only analyse the conjunction of these parameters but we cannot prove that they served as a cause of V4 migration policy.
The migration policy of the Visegrad countries The bloc consisting of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia first articulated its common position on migration in September and several times afterwards Visegrad Group,a. On the basis of these statements, we can summarise V4 migration policy in three points: a.
Once the compromise reached, each of the three institutions must then approve it through its own formal procedure. The European Council, on the other hand, sets the EU general policies and overall political priorities but has no power to pass laws. It is therefore important to highlight that the European Council should not be confused with the Council of the EU and still less with the Council of Europe, which is an international organization outside the EU system.
Democracy Promotion and the Normative Power Europe Framework
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