If global migration law “includes all levels of the law,” then the European Union represents the most developed instance of the interplay of national, regional, and international law. Migration law in the European Union involves the interaction of EU Member States’ national laws, EU regional law, and international law. This complex interchange of different migratory legal regimes is the consequence of diverse, and sometimes conflicting, objectives and interests of the Union and its Member States, and the nature of EU law itself. This essay explores the impact of these three levels of the law on the four migratory regulatory categories—EU citizens, “desirable” third-country nationals, asylum seekers, and all other third-country nationals—and the three objectives associated with these categories. The predominance of one legal regime over another varies depending on the regulatory category of migrants and the objectives associated therewith. While describing the existing legal systems, the essay outlines their attributes and shortcomings, the most prominent being: a clear rift between the rights granted to EU citizens and to third-country nationals; EU Member States’ determination to reserve to their respective national territories a high level of national control over labor migration; and significant deficiencies of the EU asylum law which were brought to the surface by the recent refugee influx into the EU.
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