Searching for solidarity in the EU asylum and border policies: constitutional and operational dimensions

Daniel Thym*, Evangelia Tsourdi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Solidarity was once at the core of the European integration process. While originally intended to facilitate further integration, solidarity, in recent years, has often been associated with the intention of safeguarding existing policies. This article attempts to untangle this polysemous concept. It discusses the constitutional significance of solidarity, ultimately distinguishing four discernible dimensions in the EU context: transnational solidarity, inter-state solidarity, solidarity between a particular group of individuals and, finally, the institutional dimension. It unpacks the interaction between solidarity, loyalty and mutual trust, ascertaining them as interlocking principles. We focus on solidarity in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, revealing it to have legal effects which require compensatory action to support the application of supranational rules. Nonetheless, the principle can be realized in different ways, and it is far from certain whether the EU institutions are able to muster the political clout and the political legitimacy necessary to overcome divergences of opinion and perception. Against this backdrop, we sketch what EU institutions have undertaken to operationalize the principle in the ambit of EU asylum and border control policies to respond to the refugee policy crisis. The contributions to this special issue delve more deeply into the different aspects of this central theme.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1031
JournalMaastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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