A New Form of Delegation in EU Asylum: Agencies as Proxies of Strong Regulators

Ariadna Ripoll Servent

The crisis in the EU's asylum system is not really a surprise; for those that followed the development of a Common European Asylum (CEAS) system, its collapse was a long time coming. Indeed, the core of its architecture - the Dublin system - has failed to solve basic problems of coordination and credible commitments. The higher influx of asylum-seekers has underlined the functional pressures to find a coordinated response from member states. Indeed, we have seen a trend towards re-nationalisation at the political level - with member states reluctant to further communitarise EU laws and enhance solidarity. And yet, at the operational level, the reform of the EU asylum office (EASO) and the border agency (FRONTEX) has been surprisingly quick and smooth. The outcome is all the more surprising, given that the Regulations include a new clause that gives the agencies the right to intervene in member states that cannot cope with controlling their borders or processing the requests for asylum. In this paper, I develop Majone's (2001) concepts of trustees and agents in order to explore why member states have decided to accord these agencies a new 'right to intervene'. I argue that, with the reform of EASO and FRONTEX, the EU has developed a new form of delegation, whereby agencies become a proxy of a small group of member states, namely strong regulators. I explain why the weaker regulators have accepted this new clause and what it might imply for trust among member states and between member states and the agencies.

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