Multiscalarity, diversity and fluidity – CEAS discussed at the IMISCOE Conference in Malmö, 26-28.June 2019

By Birgit Glorius (TUC)

The IMISCOE conference in Malmö gave us a good opportunity to disseminate results from our CESEAVAL project and also to hold a research meeting, which we used for preparing the synopsis of our results. IMISCOE is Europe's largest network of scholars in the area of migration and integration, and the annual conferences, which are always organized by one of IMISCOE’s institutional members, gives floor to enriching debates and an overview on what’s coming up in our research field.

The 2019 IMISCOE conference in Malmö was titled “Understanding International Migration in the 21st Century: Conceptual and Methodological Approaches” and provided a large number of panels which focused on concepts and methods in migration and integration research. The conference was opened with a keynote lecture by Douglas Massey on “Immigration Policy Mismatches and Counter-productive Outcomes: Unauthorized Migration to the U.S. in Two Eras.” Starting from very recent shocking images from detention camps for irregular immigrants at the U.S.-Mexican border, Douglas Massey reached out into a fascinating reflection on several decades of immigration into the U.S. and how those movements were publicly framed. He showed the continuity of albeit varying policy measures which proved to be inadequate to respond to the realities of migration and frequently resulted in unintended consequences.

Throughout the conference, topics such as mobility processes, reception and integration of asylum seekers, refugee politics and related issues dominated the portfolio and thus showed the ongoing relevance of our research. Members of our consortium gave papers on multi-level governance of asylum seekers with case studies from Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and the Netherlands, showed politicization processes taking the example of Hungary, and discussed the question of how to move beyond classical concepts of solidarity, responsibility sharing and alternative solutions to protracted displacement.

As one of the milestones of our project, Martin Wagner (ICMPD/Vienna), Ferruccio Pastore (FIERI, Turino), Jeroen Doomernik and Vincenzo Gomes (UvA, Amsterdam), presented the first results from the three stakeholder workshops which were held in Amsterdam, Milan and Vienna CEASEVAL in May/June this year. The idea of these workshops was to test scenarios for the future Common European Asylum System and to get national and local feedback. The workshops focused on the dilemma of secondary movement in the EU, on scenarios related to reception and on the issue of solidarity and responsibility sharing. After Martin, Ferruccio, Jeroen and Vincenzo had highlighted the main results from these workshops, we invited a number of discussants to comment on the findings and then opened the general discussion.

Throughout the debate, the multi-scalarity of the topic was highlighted once again. For example, it was pointed out that questions regarding refugees and asylum must be approached from a global perspective, and that practical activities have to transform from a low-funded humanitarian response into a long-term development response. On the other side of the scale, the potentials of the local level for the reception and integration of refugees were highlighted, with impressive examples of pragmatic humanitarianism which resulted in a large number of good practices and also active statements of solidarity, such as recent offers from the municipal level towards taking in contingents of those migrants who were rescued in the Mediterranean. The stakeholders noted that if the Member States are not able to provide a sustainable and equitable asylum and migration framework, the local level should be considered as alternative venue and actor for providing asylum.

Regarding the position of the European Union, the diversity of EU member states was highlighted, leading to the assumption that a complete harmonization of reception practices and conditions throughout Europe is not realistic. The EU should rather respect the diversity of EU member states and use the potentials which can be found in the respective nation states regarding the implementation of European solidarity. In this respect, one discussant from the Baltic States, which so far show little engagement regarding the resettlement of refugees, pleaded for alternative options for showing solidarity. This would be more efficient, and also fair from the perspective of refugees.

The last point of the general debate related to the question of secondary movements and thus the contrast of fluidity and containment of migration. On the one hand, and this was also shown in our research on “borders and the mobility of migrants”, the autonomy of migration is ruling out attempts of containment. Thus, in order to avoid secondary movements in the EU, stakeholders saw the externalization of initial reception as sole solution. On the other hand, stakeholders stressed that EU leaders knew well about the fluidity of refugee movements, and that hence secondary movements were seen as an “automatic” solution in order to avoid stress at the initial entry points into the EU.

All in all, the IMISCOE conference once again offered a perfect platform for the exchange of ideas and the intensification of scientific networks. As one practical outcome of our networking activities with other H2020 projects, we could convince the coordinators of the H2020 projects ADMIGOV, TRAFIQ and RESPOND to participate in the opening panel discussion of our final conference “Refuge Europe – a Question of Solidarity” at October 1 in Chemnitz.


Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning
Univeristy of Luxembourg

Over the past 10 months, I have spoken with 25 asylum seekers, rejected asylum seekers and refugees currently in Luxembourg and Metz about their experiences of borders. On the one hand, I wanted to capture the meaning they attributed to border crossings and how these interfered with their movements. On the other hand, I was interested in finding out more about the ongoing barriers they experience in the host country, in the form of difficulties in finding employment or housing. This is what I found:
Borders were often conceptualized in terms of natural borders (the Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece), material things and bodily representations

A Syrian refugee who arrived in Luxembourg in 2015 gave an extensive account of how a natural boundary and a man-made border intersect in the creation of borders:
“The first difficult point [was] the sea between Turkey and Greece. The second difficult point was Hungary because there were a lot of policemen and the Hungarian government built something to not allow you to come into the country. Not a wall, but something to prevent you to come into the country. [Barbed wire fence].“ (Syrian refugee in Luxembourg)

An Iraqi refugee who has been in Luxembourg since 2015 told me about how the Serbian border emerged through violence and the threat of violence of border agents:
“When I was in Turkey, my friend told me that Hungary is building this [fence] along the borders. When I arrived in Belgrade they finished it. There were a lot of policemen.“ (Iraqi refugee in Luxembourg)

Despite their objective to regulate and/or stop human mobility, borders fail to impede the participants’ mobility trajectories. Rather, they contribute to a change of the migratory movements.

Borders do not deter asylum seekers to get to their destination. An Eritrean asylum from Metz whose first country of entrance was Italy told me about his failed attempts at crossing the Italian-French border at night, through the forest. He would know he arrived in France when he would be caught by the French police and sent back to Italy. In the end, he decided to change the route and managed to travel to France via Switzerland and Germany, where he applied for asylum. Once his identification procedure was completed and Italy told the French authorities that he was not wanted back, he was able to lodge an asylum application in France.

The respondents in this study found ways to get across the borders by avoiding increased security flagged up by smugglers or friends. Nevertheless, the barriers experienced once arrived in the country of destination seemed to be less porous.

Everyday borders

In their everyday lives, asylum seekers and refugees are surrounded by borders which are not carried out solely by traditional actors such as border agents. These barriers can be enacted by any individuals during asylum seekers‘ and refugees‘ daily interactions. In this respect, control mechanisms of migration have moved from the outskirts of the territory towards its centre, represented by the societal level. In a similar vein, Yuval Davis et al. (2018: 230) argue that everyday bordering and ordering “involve the territorial displacement and relocation of borders and border controls that are, in principle, being carried out by anyone anywhere – government agencies, private companies and individual citizens”.
“Last time I was in Esch [in Luxembourg], I found an apartment, I went to the estate agents and the first two months, cost € 6000, something like that. I have looked for something for 3-4 months, to share a room in an apartment. I did find one, but they want at least a 6 months job contract, full time.” (Iraqi refugee in Luxembourg)

Housing represents a key dimension of integration as it can influence refugees’ sense of belonging to the community and neighbourhood. It is however, closely connected with employment, as access to private housing is often made difficult without the presence of an employment contract and substantial savings for the upfront costs. Since refugees often experience bad labour market outcomes represented by occupational downward mobility (Jackson and Bauder 2014), access to decent housing is often challenging.

To conclude, the preliminary fieldwork findings indicate that the reinforcement of borders between countries via walls, fences, presence of police and border agents etc. has proved immaterial to movements. However, the everyday borders within countries have become more sophisticated and strengthened, particularly concerning actors from the private rented sector and labour market.

Yuval-Davis, N., Wemyss, G. and Cassidy, K. (2018). Everyday Bordering, Belonging and the Reorientation of British Immigration Legislation. Sociology, 52(2), 228–244.
Jackson S. and Bauder, H. (2014). Neither Temporary, Nor Permanent: The Precarious Employment Experiences of Refugee Claimants in Canada. Journal of Refugee Studies, 27(3), 360–381

Refuge Europe – a question of solidarity?

International conference at Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany,

October 1-2, 2019.

Since 2015, migration towards and within Europe has created a ‘stress’ in the EU asylum and migration systems, challenging both the adequacy of the legal design of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and its practical implementation. Soon after the influx, the process was labeled as a “refugee crisis” by some, and “crisis of solidarity” by others, referring to the notion of solidarity and responsibility-sharing, which both are founding principles of the European Union.

Our conference aims to reflect on these recent experiences with refugee reception in Europe and present research results on how those challenges have been tackled at the different levels of governance. The conference will discuss asylum governance and refugee reception from a multilevel governance perspective. It will integrate the migrants’ perspective and reflect their experiences of mobility, borders, arrival and settlement. It will furthermore reflect the contentious politicization processes of migration and integration, which stimulated a transformation of the political landscape in many European countries. Last but not least, the conference will be attentive to best practice approaches in the field of refugee reception and asylum governance and will discuss future scenarios of a common European asylum system, based on the principle of solidarity and responsibility sharing.

This conference is part of the Horizon 2020 project CEASEVAL Evaluation of the Common European Asylum System under Pressure and Recommendations for Further Development, which aims to evaluate the European Asylum System considering recent events of stress and elaborate possibilities for reform, based on the central idea of harmonization of regulations and solidarity among EU member states. The conference will give the floor to fellow researchers to present and discuss their findings in the field of refugee reception and asylum governance, focusing on the five thematic fields CEASEVAL is studying: (1) regulatory mechanisms of the CEAS, (2) multilevel governance of reception, (3) borders and the mobility of migrants, (4) patterns of politicization on refugees and policy responses and (5) rethinking solidarity – from lip service to good practice. Moreover, we will (6) debate methodological challenges of comparative fieldwork and (7) discuss good practice of dissemination to various audiences.

Venue and Organizational Issues

The conference will take place at Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany. Chemnitz is a mid-size town, located in the federal state of Saxony, about three hours from Berlin or one hour from Dresden (several train and bus connections available). Nearest airports are Berlin, Leipzig/Halle, Dresden, and Prague. There are train and bus connections from all those airports to Chemnitz.

Panel will be held in English and German, translation will be provided. Panels will start in the morning of 1st October and last until 2nd October 2 p.m. Conference registration will be open via the CEASEVAL website from May. The conference is free of charge and entails catering. The conference dinner on Tuesday evening will be approximately 50 EUR More details on travel, venue and room contingents in recommended hotels will be given during the second circular.

Organizing Committee

Birgit Glorius (Chemnitz University of Technology, GERMANY)
Melanie Kintz (Chemnitz University of Technology, GERMANY)
Michael Collyer (University of Sussex, UNITED KINGDOM)
Erica Consterdine (University of Sussex, UNITED KINGDOM)
Jeroen Doomernik (University of Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS)
Birte Nienaber (University of Luxembourg, LUXEMBOURG)
Ferruccio Pastore (International and European Forum on Migration Research, FIERI, ITALY)
Martin Wagner (International Centre for Migration Policy Development, ICMPD, AUSTRIA)
Blanca Garces (Barcelona Centre for International Information and Documentation, CIDOB, SPAIN)
Minos Mouzourakis (European Council on Refugees and Exiles, ECRE, BELGIUM)
Evelien Brouwer (Stichting Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS)

Call for Papers

We invite scholars from various disciplines to submit abstracts that make an original theoretical and/or empirical contribution related to the Common European Asylum System. This includes but is not limited to asylum governance, refugee reception, borders, the Refugee Crisis, debates related to harmonisation and solidarity in CEAS and the politicisation of asylum. We encourage submissions that fit into one of the panels listed below. However, we welcome abstracts that go beyond these specific themes. Please submit your abstract in English or German (max. 300 words), indicating which (if any) specific panel listed below you wish to be part of, together with your name, institution/affiliation, short-biography and contact details via email ( by 15 April 2019. Applicants will be notified by May 2019 about the outcome of their submission. Participants will be asked to prepare a presentation of 15 minutes to leave time for discussion. After the conference, participants will be invited to submit papers based on their conference presentation for a special issue in a leading journal and/or an edited volume of a leading publisher. More information about this will be shared prior to the conference.
For further information, please contact either Prof. Dr. Birgit Glorius ( or Dr. Melanie Kintz (



    The panel looks at the different regulatory mechanisms of the CEAS and their effectiveness in promoting convergence in protection standards across Europe so far. It focuses on the particular forms of harmonisation through legislation, soft law and guidance, and network-building at different institutional levels. The panel will also discuss perspectives and reform opportunities for the CEAS. Contributions will be prepared by the CEASEVAL team and discussed during the panel. Convenors: Dr. Evelien Brouwer and Prof. Dr. Hemme Battjes (VU), Dr. Martin Wagner (ICMPD), Minos Mouzourakis (ECRE).


      Existing research on the Common European Asylum System has taken primarily two specular approaches: a legal perspective, aimed at assessing the degree of legislative harmonisation across EU countries vis-à-vis the EU Directives constituting the CAES; a local practices approach, looking more closely at reception practices carried out at a grassroots level (at borders, in reception facilities etc) by public officers, bureaucrats, and NGOs practitioners. Still lacking is a mid-range analysis of policymaking processes. To fill this gap, in this panel we take a multilevel governance (MLG) perspective and we focus on decision making and implementation processes of asylum seekers reception, namely one of the most complex components of CEAS and probably the one with the highest range of actors involved. The goal is that of unravelling how these policies are concretely decided upon and implemented through the interactions between public and non-public actors mobilised at different territorial scales. According to policy literature, MLG policymaking arrangements are particularly apt to address and manage complex and multifaceted social challenges. By bringing together all the concerned public and non-public actors, the expectation is that non-hierarchical and cooperative types of relations will develop with the goal of contributing to solve the issues on the ground (Agranoff 2018). However, such a perspective seems to overlook the possible political conflicts underlying actors’ interactions, especially on such politically sensitive issues as is the reception of asylum seekers. Therefore, in this panel we are particularly interested in papers that thematise the MLG of reception policies from a critical perspective. We aim at answering two main questions: 1) to what extent multi-level political dynamics are actually underpinned by cooperation and coordination among the mobilised actors, or rather marked by conflict and opposition; 2) to what extent the – eventual – presence of cooperative MLG policy-making arrangements can favour policy convergence at the grassroots level, therefore going beyond legislative harmonisation. Convenors: Dr. Tiziana Caponio (University of Turin), Dr. Ferruccio Pastore (FIERI), Dr. Lucas Oesch (Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Luxembourg)


        The birth of ”fortress Europe“ has resulted in the creation of new borders and mechanisms of control of migratory movements (Walters 2006), as well as walls and gates aiming to manage migration (Nevins 2002). This panel interrogates the conceptualisations of borders as 1) physical external frontiers and 2) internal social categorisations (Fassin 2011) in the lives of asylum seekers and refugees. Internal social boundaries recreate state borders, highlighting who is (not) allowed to be in a given space or what their rights might be limited to. Borders have thus become ubiquitous (Balibar 2002), as they no longer exist only at the limit of the state territory, but have (also) been transferred into the middle of the social and political space. Borders are thus not only separation lines between topological spaces, but they also represent social and cultural frontiers of inclusion and exclusion (Yuval-Davis 2013) which differentiate between ‘insiders’ and those deemed ‘outsiders’. Asylum seekers and refugees are surrounded by multiple borders in their everyday lives, which are enacted by various actors such as traditional border-guards, as well as public and private agents from the labour and housing market or health and education sectors. All these actors may facilitate or prevent migrants from crossing barriers allowing them to have access or not to various services. We invite theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological contributions which engage with, but are not limited to, the following aspects: 1) How contemporary borders are formed in asylum seekers and refugees’ everyday lives. 2) The crossing of physical borders, and the encounters with border-guards. 3) The interplay between borders and boundaries in the everyday lives of asylum seekers and refugees. 4) Borders in the labour and housing market, as well as in the health and education sectors for asylum seekers and refugees. 5) If and how the Schengen agreement has redefined the notion of borders for asylum seekers and refugees. 6) The role of the Dublin regulation in the movements of asylum seekers and refugees. 7) How borders influence the mobility of asylum seekers and refugees and/or how they are challenged by their mobility. Convenors: Dr. Claudia Paraschivescu and Dr. Lucas Oesch (Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Luxembourg) References Balibar, E. (2002). Politics and the other scene. London, Verso. Fassin, D. (2011). "Policing Borders, Producing Boundaries. The Governmentality of Immigration in Dark Times." Annual Review of Anthropology 40(1): 213-226.


          Since 2015 migration towards and within Europe has created a ‘stress’ in the EU asylum and migration systems, challenging the adequacy of the legal and policy design of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). In particular, the 2015 so-called Refugee Crisis – for many a “crisis in solidarity” - has raised major questions for what fair burden-sharing and responsibility-sharing mean in practice and whether the current CEAS can cohesively deliver a harmonized asylum system. Despite the centrality of these questions, most academic literature has focused on the politicisation of immigration, including how public opinion, political rhetoric and media coverage shape the debates, saliency and polarisation of migration and in turn how such contestations influence policy responses. Taking cues from this literature, this panel shifts the focus from the politicisation of immigration to the politicisation of responsibility. This means a shift from questions such as how migration is covered, perceived and responded to questions about the meaning and boundaries of responsibility, which includes debates about state's responsibility towards citizens and non-citizens; to whom we should be responsible, who is a deserving asylum seekers and what it means to deserve; and who should be responsible both at the national and European levels, including debates on sovereignty and the clash between Europeanisation and renationalisation of immigration policies. The final purpose is to identify different patterns and mechanisms of politicization (Wilde 2011) and by so doing understand the relationship between politics, politicisation and policies vis-à-vis debates on responsibility both between and within Member States. We invite theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological contributions which engage with these aspects. Convenors: Dr. Blanca Garces (CIDOB, Spain), Prof. Dr. Anna Krasteva (CERMES/NBU, Bulgaria), Dr. Erica Consterdine (University of Sussex, UK)

            The notion of solidarity stands at the core of CEASEVAL’s research and is approached from various perspectives and at various scales of observation. Solidarity is commonly defined as an “agreement between and support for the members of a group, especially a political group.” (Cambridge Dictionary). In the EU and its multilevel governance framework, “solidarity” is usually interpreted as responsibility sharing, which requires countries to cooperate aiming to achieve shared goals which go beyond individual MS interests (Wagner, Kraler, Baumgartner 2018). In the context of refugee reception and asylum, the term “solidarity” also shows high relevance on the sub-national level and among non-state actors, where it is much more in evidence than among member states. State and non-state actors, civil society as well as asylum seekers themselves play a major role in bypassing normative regulations and authorities’ constraints to develop alternative approaches of reception and integration (Ruszczyk 2018, Siapera 2019, Agustín and Jørgensen 2019). Theoretically, those processes are studied in the context of research on social movements’ and contentious politics (Ataç, Rygiel, Stierl 2017) and also between governmental levels (Kos, Maussen, Doomernik 2015, Oomen, Baumgärtel, Durmus 2018). From the geographical point of view, solidarity from below connects to the notion of the “local turn”, which stresses the relevance of local settings, the role of local governance as well as the engagement of local actors, that may however transcend the local level by adopting a transnational or translocal approach (see for example the Solidarity Cities and Sanctuary Cities movements). Thus, we can ask if and how solidarity movements from below have the potential to create new relationships between actors and governance levels. In this panel, we would like to take a perspective from below and analyse how solidarity is enacted on the local level and among local actors. We are specifically interested in the development of solidarity practices across space and time, how solidarity is framed and argued by the involved actors, who those actors are and how solidarity movements can be understood from a social theory perspective. On the basis of the contributions to our panel, we want to discuss the transformative potential of solidarity from below with regards to responsibility, belonging, and citizenship. We invite theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological contributions which engage with these aspects. Convenors: Prof. Dr. Birgit Glorius (TU Chemnitz, Germany), Dr. Jeroen Doomernik (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands) References: Agustín Ó.G., Jørgensen M.B. (2019) Solidarity as Political Action. Crime or Alternative?. In: Solidarity and the 'Refugee Crisis' in Europe. Palgrave Pivot, Cham. DOI Ataç I., Rygiel K., Stierl M. (2017) The Contentious Politics of Refugee and Migrant Protest and Solidarity Movements: Remaking Citizenship from the Margins. Routledge, Milton Parks. Ruszczyk, S. (2018) Non-state actors in the regularisation of undocumented youths: the role of the ‘education without borders network’ in Paris, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2018.1495068 Siapera, E. (2019) Refugee solidarity in Europe: Shifting the discourse. European Journal of Cultural Studies. Wagner M., Kraler A., Baumgartner P. (2018) Solidarity – an integral and basic concept of the Common European Asylum System. CEASEVAL RESEARCH ON THE COMMON EUROPEAN ASYLUM SYSTEM (05). Available at: Oomen B., Baumgärtel M., Durmus E. (2018) Transnational CityNetworks and Migration Policy, Cities of Refuge research, policy brief Kos S., Maussen M., Doomernik J. (2016) Policies of Exclusion and Practices of Inclusion: How Municipal Governments Negotiate Asylum Policies in the Netherlands, in Territory, Politics, Governance, Vol. 4(3), pp. 354-374.

              Most of the CEASEVAL findings feed into a set of scenarios on the future of refugee protection in the European Union. Those scenarios will be presented at this round table, to which stakeholders are invited who in their daily practice are concerned with the reception of asylum seekers and refugees; organizing solidarity; harmonizing policies and practices; and dealing with the consequences of secondary movements (i.e. asylum seekers who travel beyond the country responsible for them under the Dublin-rules). These issues manifest themselves at diverse locations and at varying levels of governance; i.e. from grass roots to the international level. Stakeholders familiar with any of those perspectives are highly welcome to join the exchange and to critically reflect on CEASEVAL's scenarios. Convenors: Dr. Jeroen Doomernik and Dr. Vincenzo Gomes (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)