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Venue-Shopping and the Role of Non-governmental Organisations in the Development of the European Union Asylum Policy

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Abstract

The development of cooperation on asylum and migration matters in the European Union (EU) has often been explained as the result of ‘venue-shopping’, that is, the move by national policy-makers to a new EU policy venue in order to circumvent domestic obstacles. However, focusing on the case of asylum, recent literature has argued that, contrary to expectations, the move to the EU policy venue has actually resulted in a rise in asylum standards overall. This can be explained by a series of treaty changes that have resulted in the increasing ‘communautarisation’ and ‘judicialisation’ of the EU asylum policy venue. This article seeks to further contribute to these debates by examining the hitherto neglected role of refugee-assisting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in this process. It argues that, contrary to the expectation that venue-shopping to the EU level would enable policy-makers to free themselves from NGO monitoring, NGOs have actually increasingly organised their advocacy work at the EU level in recent years. The treaty changes to the EU asylum policy venue have also increased advocacy opportunities for NGOs, which have enabled them to exercise a significant level of influence over the EU asylum policy-making process, especially at the policy drafting stage. It can be concluded that the current configuration of the EU asylum policy venue offers more opportunities for NGOs to exercise their influence on the development of the EU asylum policy than ever before.

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Correspondence to Christian Kaunert.

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Keywords

  • Advocacy
  • Asylum
  • EU asylum policy
  • Lobbying
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Qualification Directive
  • Recast Qualification Directive
  • Venue-shopping