The evolution of EU asylum and migration policies: Towards supranational cooperation?

Nadia Petroni |

European cooperation in the field of asylum and migration accelerated after the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 which involved a major overhaul of the founding treaties, establishing the EU and formalising intergovernmental cooperation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) under the third pillar. Subsequently, in 1999, the Treaty of Amsterdam, which amended certain provisions of Maastricht, represented a move towards more supranational decision-making on two counts. First, several issues were moved to pillar one, the Community pillar, subjecting them to the ‘Community method’. Second, in 2005, the Commission gained the sole right of initiative in the area of asylum and migration, following a 5-year transitional period of sharing it with EU member states. 

In 2003, the Treaty of Nice created complex requirements for the adoption of legislation in view of the imminent ‘big bang’ enlargement. This, however, only resulted in modest steps towards a further deepening of European cooperation in asylum and migration. Finally, in 2009, the Lisbon Treaty granted the EU new competences to adopt legislative acts towards the development of a common policy on asylum and migration to be governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility (Art. 80 TFEU). Moreover, the Treaty established that the adoption of such legislative acts is to be carried out following the ordinary legislative procedure, enhancing the role of the European Parliament (EP) by placing it on an equal footing with the Council in the legislative process.

The impact of the entry into force of these four Treaties on EU asylum and migration policymaking in the context of irregular migration will be will further explored in subsequent posts.



Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty), 7 February 1992 [OJ C 191, 29.7.1992] 

Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty of the European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts, 2 October 1997 [OJ C 340, 10.11.1997] 

Treaty of Nice amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts, 26 February 2001 [OJ C 80,10.3.2001] 

Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union [OJ C 83, 30.3.2010] and the Treaty establishing the European Community (renamed the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) [OJ C 83, 30.3.2010], Lisbon, 13 December 2007 [OJ C 306, 17.12.2007]