In Defence of Policy Incoherence – Illustrations from EU External Migration Policy

in EU External Migration Policies in an Era of Global Mobilities: Intersecting Policy Universes
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The issue of EU policy coherence has attracted tremendous attention from academics and policy makers. Alongside much conceptual querying of what policy coherence means, there is a continuous lamenting of the lack of policy coherence, and the need for more is stressed. Political scientists analyse the decision-making procedures and conclude that different EU institutions, bodies and agencies do not coordinate, resulting in policy coherence. Legal scientists bemoan the incoherent EU legal order and argue for further Treaty reform. This chapter takes the case of the EU (external) migration policy to show that this widespread incoherence is a normal and inevitable feature of EU governance in this field, and of any pluralistic, democratic and rule of law based system of government. Divergent interests, values, and actors can only be accommodated in policies by allowing for some degree of policy incoherence, it is thus the condition upon which EU policy making is premised. The chapter argues that the dominant preoccupation with policy coherence should be reappraised, and advances a broad notion of coherence embedded in the Rule of Law.

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