The Changing Position of the European Parliament on Irregular Migration and Asylum under Co-decision


  • I wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) for their generous support of the Haifa Centre for German and European Studies.


Esther Lopatin

Haifa Centre for German and European Studies (HCGES)

Education Building, Room 641

University of Haifa

Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905




This article demonstrates that the European Parliament has increasingly voted with the Council for a more restrictive position on irregular migration and asylum since obtaining co-decision authority in these areas in 2005, in contrast to its previous liberal position. Roll-call votes in the fifth and sixth European Parliaments (1999–2009) in the field of irregular migration and asylum were analyzed, and it was found that an abrupt change in voting behaviour of many MEPs, particularly those members belonging to two of its main liberal-leaning parties, the S&D and ELDR, is evidently linked to the change of authority of the EP. Apparently, there is an inverse correlation between the level of decision-making authority and the freedom to vote for a liberal immigration and asylum policy. The author suggests several explanations for this behaviour, including the need for MEPs to be flexible in working with the Council in order to pass legislation.