Solidarity and critique in the EU: A case study of asylum

Lukasz Dziedzic

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Public summary: Solidarity and Critique in the European Union - A Case Study of Asylum
Solidarity has been a key concept accompanying the manifold crises the EU has been facing over the past years. From the Euro crisis, over the so-called refugee crisis, up to the recent Covid-19 crisis, solidarity has been a buzzword in political and media discourses, and much ink has been spilled in a variety of academic disciplines in trying to get a grip on what it might entail in the context of the European Union and its policies.
While a discourse of solidarity is thus omnipresent, there is a lack of a clear conceptual analysis of its (ab-)uses in the European Union. The aim of the present study has thus been to close this gap, while focusing on the central case study of asylum, leading to the following main research question: What does the principle of solidarity entail for Member States and protection seekers, and how can it be conceptualized and accommodated at the EU level?
The methodological approach of this study combined conceptual analysis, drawing on debates in philosophy, sociology and political science, with careful legal-doctrinal analysis. The main contribution derived therefrom is the identification of different conceptualizations of solidarity at play in the European Union context. Key is the concept of group solidarity, which requires EU Member States to act in the collective interest of the Union as a whole, rather than just limit themselves to their own national self-interests, when pursuing certain collective goals (e.g. the EU's policies on asylum, or economic and monetary policies) based on a set of common values as defined in the Treaties. It calls on Member States to cooperate instead of free-riding; to distribute the benefits and burdens of cooperation fairly; to mutually trust each other when loyally performing their respective duties; and to support other Member States when needed. When group solidarity is absent and there is a resulting mismatch between the Member States' practices and the Union's principles, critical solidarity as a corrective becomes key. Citizens, activists, scholars etc. can engage in critical solidarity to contest such a mismatch and highlight the need for change - for example if there is a mismatch between the Union's principles of providing fair and humane conditions for asylum seekers and the practice of letting them behind in camps at the EU's external borders indeterminately.
A central recommendation of this research is that unless the EU's asylum policies will be reformed to meet the requirements of group solidarity, we will see a perpetuation of the recurrent crises, and in the longer term potential disintegration due to the so-caused erosion of the EU's value basis.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Tilburg University
  • Lindahl, Hans, Promotor
  • Rijken, Conny, Promotor
Award date4 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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