The European Union (EU) imposes on itself its own constraints in which it performs as an external actor, and yet, there is little acknowledgment of this imposed constraint. It is the migration crisis, an unexpected occurrence, which happens to have brought the fields of EU external relation law and migration law together. The EU ’ s external border, on both land and sea, has brought vivid images of tightened borders through legal acts of non-traditional nature, namely, the resort to securitisation and militarisation. Challenges, such as mass irregular migration, require more than just the individual responses of a few selected Member States that are directly affected by the issue. With thousands of persons attempting to reach the shores of EU Member States, and the perils such persons face on their journey, which has seen mass drownings in the Mediterranean Sea, the EU and its Member States have not stood idly by. Instead, decisive action on a number of fronts has been imperative.
These responses to the migration crisis have been caught up in a multileveled legal architecture that, whilst complementary, can also compete with other interested stakeholders. Local responses, coupled with national efforts at Member State level and supranational coordination determination, make for a paradigm that is difficult to disentangle. The level of human smuggling and wider trafficking activity in the more troubled regions of the European neighbourhood pose new challenges that defy traditional convention. The profiteering from such unscrupulous activity poses a significant threat to the rule of law in the EU, and EU Member States more generally. Certain Member States, such as Greece and Italy, have been faced with a two-fold setback with the financial crisis along with being subjected to migration flows into the EU which, being on the EU ’ s geographic periphery, have been unprecedented. Accordingly, the likelihood is that the EU would do everything it possibly can to stem the flow of irregular migration from third states, to alleviate such problems.
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