- Research Project
Immigration “has become an issue central to the future of Europe; perhaps the central issue” (Favell and Hansen 2002, 581). The schism that opened between “old” and “new” Europe during the 2015 refugee crisis, the largest Europe has witnessed since World War 2 has driven this point home. While on the one hand, Western EU governments have shown willingness to welcome refugees as illustrated by Angela Merkel’s unilateral decision to suspend the Dublin Regulation on the first country of entry and give blanket asylum to Syrian asylum seekers. On the other hand, Eastern EU leaders from the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) and the Visegrád Group (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) have refused to receive these asylum seekers with Hungary rushing to build a fence along its frontier with Serbia and at times blocking their onward travel to Austria and Germany. The Lex Specialis to the Dublin Convention adopted as a policy response has been a tenuous compromise rather than an enduring solution with Slovakia filing an appeal against it (Rettman 2015). In 2014 while acceptance rates for refugees hovered around 77 % in Sweden, they fell as low as 24 % in Latvia (IRIN 2015). For countries that are supposed to speak with one voice and apply equitably the same regulations, this gap is astonishing. The aim of this research project is to investigate the determinants of this policy divergence and the factors that permeated policy formulation and decisionmaking under crisis and uncertainty. The project will also examine the implementation of these decisions in two Eastern EU countries, Hungary and Poland. The former arguably has been the most affected by the Crisis. The latter is their largest and most powerful state. The research project falls within the strategic area, Politics and Public Policy specifically comparative public policy. However, it intersects in some aspects with international and national governance.