SP 2: Europeanization of Asylum Administrative Practice?

Second project phase (2015-2018): dynamics of cross-national cooperation

While the first project phase focused on the question of convergence of administrative practices between two member states, the second project stage  will analyse cross-national networks pertaining to the administrative handling of asylum applications. For this purpose, we intend to focus on the procedures and instruments used by cross-national and inter-agency cooperation (for example through the exchange of liaison officers). We assume that local administrative practices remain deeply embedded in specific (national) contexts. However, it is to be expected that inter-agency and cross-national cooperation trigger transnational dynamics that merit proper analysis.  We are particularly interested in analysing the mutual responsibilities, contradictions and conflicts that govern asylum administration in Europe.


First Project Phase (2012-2015): harmonization of administrative practices

During the first project phase, we focused on the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) Training Curriculum in order to learn more about the process and limitations of European attempts to coordinate and harmonise administrative practices. The EASO-Training aims to improve the quality, efficiency and standardisation of procedures and decisions among European asylum authorities. Our research was geared to analyse both the conceptual development of the Training Curriculum on a European level and its practical implementation across a number of member states. With regard to the latter, we analysed and compared administrative practices in Sweden and Germany.

The findings of this first project phase paint a differentiated picture. On the one hand, the CEAS has established a new legal and political framework for bureaucratic practices on the ground. Administrative personnel attest that asylum has become a joint problem area that requires coordinated problem-solving with mutual responsibilities. On the other hand, we are far from a linear convergence of administrative behaviour, because the field of asylum administration is still marked by considerable national differences and path-dependencies.

Research methodology

In order to accomplish the stated aims of this second project phase, we will be implementing a work-plan that employs qualitative social research methodology.

  • Firstly, we will analyse the administrative reality of the CEAS on a structural level (i.e. the shape and size of national asylum authorities, the number of asylum applications and the nature and amount of inter-agency contacts per country) by means of a systematic mapping of available data and complementary expert interviews.
  • Secondly, we aim to analyse the conflicts inherent in administrative practices by assessing the structural or procedural tensions between national authorities, and the impact of public debates by non-government organisations (NGOs) and mass media on public administrations. This inquiry will be based on document analysis and interviews.
  • Thirdly, we will investigate inter-agency and cross-national administrative procedures by means of a “multi-sited ethnography“.