The Power of Opacity: EU Responses to Weaponised Migration

Orchestrating migration pressure has long been an instrument used by a variety of actors to create leverage, extract concessions, inflict damage on reputations or pursue other hostile intentions. The EU has faced several such attempts. The events organised by the Lukashenka regime in Belarus in 2021, by Türkiye in early 2020 and by Morocco in May 2021 are the most notable. This policy brief argues that the EU has handled recent situations of migration coercion rather well and has the potential to handle them even better in the future. The apparent inconsistency and fluidity of EU action is often subject to criticism in the media, a cause of exasperation for national and EU officials, and perceived as a serious deficiency to be remedied. However, the same policy and operational opacity has significant advantages: it makes the EU an unpredictable target for migration instrumentalisation, presenting adversaries with planning challenges. Commenting on existing Commission proposals, the paper argues the continued unpredictability of EU responses, albeit based on an imperfect legislative status quo, is preferable to EU laws that might constrain the bloc’s room for manoeuvre. 

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