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Understanding EU Solidarity and Migration in Crisis: Narratives of Health as Tools of Governance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2019

Rachael DICKSON*
Research Fellow, University of Birmingham; email:


The so-called European migration crisis has sparked significant attention from scholars and raises questions about the role of solidarity between states and the European Union (EU) in providing policy solutions. Tension exists between upholding the rights of those seeking entry and pooling resources between Member States to provide a fair and efficient migration system. This article deconstructs the shifts that have occurred in EU migration policy since 2015 to highlight how narratives of health have become tools of governance. It does so to illuminate how health narratives operate to minimise the impact that conflicts on the nature and substance of EU solidarity have on policy development in response to the perceived crisis. A governmentality lens is used to analyse the implications of increasingly prescribed policy applications based on screening and categorising, and how measures operate to responsibilise migrants and third-countries to act according to EU values. It is argued this approach to governance results in migrants facing legal uncertainty in terms of accessing their rights and excludes them from the EU political space, which is problematic for how EU governance can be understood.

Symposium on European Union Governance of Health Crisis and Disaster Management
© Cambridge University Press 2019

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