Asylum policy preferences among the European publics : conflict configurations at the transnational and domestic level

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Series Details 2021/93, Number 93
Publication Date 2021
ISSN 1028-3625


In this paper we aim to map public preferences in the domain of asylum policy in order to explore the various lines of conflict and their intensity in the aftermath of the refugee crisis. Taking as a starting point the EU polity’s two-level structure, we study both transnational lines of conflict looking at polarisation between countries with regard to the major asylum-related policies that have been proposed or adopted during the different phases of the refugee crisis, and domestic lines of conflict looking at the polarization between various groups within countries in terms of their general support for migration and party allegiances. Utilising an original cross-national survey fielded in 16 EU member states, we find that conflicts surrounding asylum policy are more intense at the domestic level between supporters and opponents of migrations, than at the transnational one between various types of countries. Moreover, such conflicts are being structured around the relocation of asylum applicants debate (involving quotas or compensation), while other policies involving external or internal bordering (such as the EBCG and general border closures) or externalisation (such as the EU-Turkey deal) are comparatively less polarising. Generally, our results show that the conflict potentials of immigration policies, rather than being fully mobilised or alleviated, are still large and have markedly increased, especially in the destination states of north-western Europe over the last few years, with implications for the options available to policy makers.

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