The European Agenda on migration contains the main procedures and rules “to build up a coherent and comprehensive approach to reap the benefits and address the challenges deriving from migration”. Based on the so-called “hotspot approach”, named after the centres located in Italy and Greece, the Agenda explicitly states the advent of a “strong policy on asylum”. These two Member States receive the majority of migrants currently arriving in Europe and are responsible for their photo-identification and fingerprinting within a maximum of 72 hours from the moment of entry.
The EU Agenda is based on four objectives:
1. Reduce incentives for irregular migration (strengthening of return);
2. Save lives and secure external borders;
3. Launch a ‘strong asylum policy’ (new monitoring policies, reflection on the establishment of a single decision-making process on asylum);
4. Promote a new legal migration policy (which, among other things, can maximise the positive impact of migration on the development of the countries of origin).
The new ‘strong asylum policy’ has resulted in a drastic restriction of space for asylum in the EU, as well as in the strengthening of the border control mechanisms whose implementation is conducted mainly through two distinct measures. The first is the increase in a highly structured surveillance patrolling network in the Mediterranean (EU Agencies Frontex and Eurosul); the second relies on specific agreements with or among the member states with ‘third countries’. For example, the agreement between the EU and Turkey (2016) or between the Italian government and the Libyan Government of National Unity (2016) have as their prime objectives the prevention of migrant entrances into the SAR (Search and Rescue area) (De Genova, Mezzadra, Pickles, 2015). From a geopolitical perspective, this increasingly close cooperation with third countries in the field of migration calls into question the EU itself, not only because it has been “reshuffling [its] spatial effects and influences”, but also due to its obligation to maintain the principle of protection for asylum seekers and refugees (Tazzioli, 2015, p. 10).
De Genova, N., Mezzadra, S., & Pickles, J. (2015). New keywords: Migration and borders. Cultural studies, 29(1), pp. 55-87.
Tazzioli, M. (2015). Which Europe? Migrants’ uneven geographies and counter-mapping at the limits of representation. movements. Journal for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies, 1(2), https://movements-journal.org/issues/02.kaempfe/04.tazzioli–europe-migrants-geographies-counter-mapping-representation.html.