The increase in migration flows since 2011 has plunged the EU in its second existential crisis in the space of five years after the Eurozone crisis. While the legislative and political responses by the European Union have been limited, the financial responses have been remarkable. The EU substantially increased the budget allocated to migration, launched new instruments such as the EU Trust Fund for Africa, restructured its financial toolbox several times, and recently created for the first time a targeted heading for migration issues under the EU budget 2021-2027. What explains this dynamism of the EU instrumentation process? Are EU funds for migration and asylum mere moneyboxes, or do they reflect broader changes and understandings of the political problems and solutions? This project addresses this puzzle by, first, measuring how and to what extent have EU financial instruments changed since the supranationalisation of this policy area in the early 2000s. Do they fund more activities to control migration flows or rather support integration and legal arrivals? Are they more centralized at the EU level or are they managed by the EU member states? Then, it explores the drivers of change to understand the logics underpinning decisions to modify the existing financial tools, discontinue them or rather launch new ones. This project assumes that EU funds for migration and asylum are not merely money boxes. By operationalizing policy objectives, allocating money to specific priorities, sharing implementation responsibilities between the EU and the Member States, and setting the indicators to measure the success of interventions, they are an important non-regulatory policy instrument. They may signal the pace and the direction of the EU activity and be a proxy for the salience of a particular issue for decision-makers. Political science research needs, first, empirical data on the EU financial instruments for migration and asylum and their changes over time. And second, it needs a more fine-grained theorization of instrument change, considering the specific factors (such as behavioral, bureaucratic, and administrative ones) that distinguish the process of instrument design from the policy formulation process.


Duration 01/02/2023 - 31/01/2026
Funding FWF

Department for Migration and Globalisation

Center for Migration and Globalisation Research

Principle investigator for the project (University for Continuing Education Krems) Dr. Federica Zardo
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