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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Europe’s Multiple Reception Realities: Methodological Thoughts on Small-N Comparison in a Fragmented Europe

Local Government
Comparative Perspective
Member States
Helena Hattmannsdorfer
University of Vienna
Helena Hattmannsdorfer
University of Vienna

Harmonization efforts of the Common European Asylum System have generated two regulations (Dublin and EURODAC) and three directives defining minimum standards of reception conditions, asylum procedures and qualification of asylum seekers in Europe. In the implementation process researchers observed high discretion in member states legislations and important differences in reception realities. Sub-national policies, local actors and initiatives, as well as political cultures and discourses generating “national” narratives of migration and asylum might explain these differences.
In the study of local reception realities in France, Hungary and Italy this research project shows that since 2013 national policies and in consequence local realities have diverged rather radically. Therefore, this paper suggests a fragmentation into a Europe as destination, a Europe without migrants and a Europe of first arrival. Studying these three different cases, allows evaluating the role of local and decentralized migration politics and stating consequences of its absence. The analysis of a small number of cases on the micro level of local politics allows to better understand what might have led to differences in local reception realities, despite harmonization efforts. At the same time, it permits to draw parallels on the macro-level of European cooperation and national responses.
Emanating from insights into very different subnational migration regimes, this paper seeks to develop a comparative approach on most different cases, improving strategies to compare cases and countries within the European Union or further. The challenge of this endeavour is to generate a comparative design that can make sense of differences in local reception (and the quasi absence of it) in the context of supra-national harmonization efforts. This contribution aims to produce contextualized knowledge, through a methodological lens of small-N comparison in most different cases, shedding light on recent developments on asylum policies on the sub-state as well as on the European level.
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