European disunity and the need for political leadership in migration management

The EU lacks effective tools for managing its border and asylum regimes. Gil Thompson suggests this could be improved by putting people in charge who understand the politics behind the problem. Both Frontex and EASO need to be managed by people with proven political experience.

PLATO policy brief no. 4, February 2021

life jacket on beach
Photo: © Gil Thompson

Summary

The Frontex decision to suspend its operations in Hungary is a symptom of a larger inability of the EU to act in a concerted, coherent fashion in the management of its external borders. The EU’s attempts at managing push and pull factors of migration, as well as at externalising border controls have been ineffective and, at best, unethical. This brief discusses a series of steps that the EU could take to improve the implementation of the European border management and asylum system:

  1. Improve reporting by Frontex officials of fundamental rights violations by member states
  2. Tie fundamental rights enforcement, along with rule of law, to structural funds
  3. Require member states to abide by refugee quotas
  4. Work with third countries to ensure safe and timely returns
  5. Formulate a common European policy regarding Turkey and Libya

However, due to the political nature of the current challenges, the brief concludes that politically adept leadership is a prerequisite to any successful policy. The EU's border agency Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and their related European Commission portfolios, need to be managed by people with proven political experience and a deep understanding of practical politics.

Publication details

European disunity and the need for political leadership in migration management
Gil Thompson
PLATO Policy Brief no. 4, February 2021

Published Feb. 28, 2021 4:58 PM - Last modified Mar. 4, 2021 10:53 PM