Towards a new ontology of crisis? Resilience in EU migration governance

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Series Details Volume 28, Number 4, Pages 393-412
Publication Date December 2019
ISSN 0966-2839 (print) | 1746-1545 (online)
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In critical security studies, resilience counts as promoter of a new ontology of crisis insofar as policymakers accept crises as unpredictable and uncontrollable and, eventually, engage in reflexive change of their governance approaches.

This paper interrogates the meaning, empirical application and institutional implications of a resilience turn in EU migration governance; a domain where resilience has recently been discovered as potential remedy for dealing with crises, especially so since the on-set of large-scale refugee movements in 2015.

The paper offers two contributions: first, we conceptualise resilience as promotive of a new ontology of crisis by wedding existing typologies of resilience to theories of policy change, thus making the notion of resilience-induced ontological change operationalizable for an evaluation of EU migration governance. Second, we analyse three recent EU policy initiatives to illustrate the mileage of our analytical tool.

The analysis shows that the EU Commission’s inclination towards reflexive renewal is juxtaposed by the stability-oriented decision-making institutions of the EU and member states. A transformation of policy goals from status-quo preservation through sovereign migration control to flexible policy and institutional change in fluent migration societies seems unviable where EU migration governance remains ontologically torn about migration-related crises and suitable policy responses.

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